Water bosses defend action on leaks as hosepipe ban looms

Water bosses have defended their efforts to tackle leaks ahead of a hosepipe ban.
Hosepipe bans are due to come into forceHosepipe bans are due to come into force
Hosepipe bans are due to come into force

United Utilities yesterday announced the restriction would come into force on Sunday August 5 due to the current heatwave and lower than expected reservoir levels.

But the GMB, the union for the water industry, claims millions will have the ban while United Utilities wastes more than 430m litres every day.

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That represents 133 litres of water per day per household - the equivalent of a full bath tub and washing machine cycle.

Stuart Fegan, GMB national officer, said: “Millions of people in the North West are facing a hosepipe ban while United Utilities let more than 175 Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth of water go down the plug hole every single day.

“It’s a disgrace that customers face a £1,000 fine as private water fat cats trouser millions, all the while failing to invest to tackle leakages.

“While we have had hot weather, the UK uses less than two per cent of the water that falls from the sky each year and which flows into the sea.

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“Whatever the weather, we need to take back the tap and ensure our water services are run in the interests of the public once more and not just the few at the top.”

United Utilities insisted they are doing what they can.

A spokesman said: “Reducing leaks is a top priority. We have cut leakage by half since the 1990s and are working hard to do even more. For instance, we now use satellites to help to detect leaks, and we have just recruited a team of sniffer dogs trained to pinpoint leaks in rural areas where the water does not always show on the surface.

“The company takes the issue of losses of water from its distribution network very seriously and every year invests millions of pounds to minimise the amount of water lost. Currently, there are over 160 full-time inspectors detecting leaks across the region.

“Since the Beast From The East severe weather event in February and response to the ongoing drought, we have increased both our leakage detection and repair activities by around 50 per cent. In addition to traditional detection methods, we are also investing in emerging satellite technology to help spot leaks.”

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The hosepipe ban, which is known as a temporary use ban, restricts the use of hosepipes or sprinklers for watering private gardens and washing private cars.

Robert Light, Northern chairman for the Consumer Council For Water, said: “Customers would find it unacceptable for essential water use in the home to be restricted so we think it’s right for United Utilities to take action now to help alleviate that risk by preparing for a hosepipe ban.

“We’ve been assured that blue badge holders and customers on the company’s priority services register will be exempt from any restrictions but we’d urge any other vulnerable customers who are unable to use a watering can, for instance, to get in touch with the company.

“In the meantime we’d encourage customers to keep using water wisely and for the company to do everything in its power to reduce the amount of water lost through leaking pipes, in the hope that we may still be able to avoid restrictions.”