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29 December 2010, 13:58 | Updated: 2 January 2011, 11:52
Southern Water is investing £20 million to reduce leaks across its 13,600 kilometres of water mains. Homes will get meters with Leak detectors
This is the company statement
The company is already delivering one of the lowest levels of leakage per property of all the UK water and wastewater companies but over the next five years, it will be investing heavily to further reduce levels.
And with this winter predicted to be the coldest for decades, we will be working harder than ever to find and repair pipes which have burst because of the freezing conditions and to minimise the amount of water lost.
As part of its leak reduction programme, Southern Water has already:
· Increased its leak detection team by more than 50 per cent, to more than 180 staff – with more to come. These teams work around to clock to find and fix leaks.
· Started a project to replace 50 kilometres of ageing water mains during 2010/11. More mains replacements will continue over the next five years.
· Launched its universal metering programme, which will see water meters with leak alarms installed in the majority of homes in the South East from 2010 to 2015. The alarms are expected to save up to five million litres of water per day.
The programme is seeing positive results. Since April, leakage teams have repaired 13,500 leaks and are well on the way to beating last year’s figure of 17,230. This is partly thanks to customers who, since April, have made 14,131 calls to our freephone leakline – 0800 820999 - to report leaks, saving millions of litres of water.
Leakage occurs not just from big bursts, which are visible. Pipes can also leak from millions of joints throughout the distribution system, which are underground and not readily accessible.
The team works with specialist acoustic equipment and even old fashioned listening sticks to find the leaks.
Leakage Manager Dave Williams said: “Southern Water has a good leakage record and our action plan will bring even better results as we head towards winter. Freezing pipes are more prone to bursting, so we’re working even harder during this cold spell to plug leaks. It’s vital we’re prepared for the cold conditions and we ask customers to do their bit by calling our leakline to report any leaks.”
Southern Water’s new water meters are the most advanced in the water industry and include a ‘leak alarm’ which is triggered when water runs constantly through the pipes. This alarm is picked up by meter readers and passed to leakage teams, helping drive down leakage to even lower levels. In addition, metering will help the leakage team pinpoint more clearly where leaks are likely to be on the network.
Mr Williams said: “Metering, coupled with measures including targeted mains replacement and expanding teams, means we’ll be able to significantly reduce leakage over the next five years."