Water Watchdog: New Pipes Prone To Leaks
The water watchdog has told Sky News that plastic pipes used to replace the leaking Victorian network are prone to leaking soon after they are installed.
The revelation comes after industry regulator Ofwat said that replacing all the pipes in England and Wales would cost an estimated £100bn - but leakage levels would only be halved.
"High-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes can begin to leak not long after they have been installed," an Ofwat spokeswoman confirmed to Sky News Online.
"This is because the same pressures that act on old pipes, still act on new pipes - namely movements in the earth and changes in temperature."
A major upgrade programme across Britain has used the plastic pipes to replace aged Victorian iron pipework in a bid to stem leaks.
But according to the regulator, water companies across England and Wales still leaked more than 2.29 million litres a minute during 2010 and 2011.
"The HDPE pipes may be more resilient, but they will still leak, and they still need to have joints," the spokeswoman said.
"Joints are particular weak spots, and will be prone to weeps and seepages."
The news comes after it was confirmed that nearly 40% of water companies have not been required to reduce their leakage rates - despite the country's worst drought in 25 years.
According to the Ofwat website, the trade-off between leaks and repairs is called the "sustainable economic level of leakage", which "identifies the level of leakage that gives consumers the best value for money".
Ofwat has said eight out of 21 water companies had been set zero reduction of leaks targets to 2015, even though hosepipe bans have been declared in central and southern England.
The firms include Yorkshire Water, which failed to meet its 2010-11 targets, and as a result was required to spend an additional £33m on leak repairs.
Southern Water had to pay £5m back to customers after missing its latest leak target by 16%, Ofwat said.
Last year Ofwat announced a new "risk-based strategy", partially designed to reduce "onerous and burdensome" data collection of the companies - with a view to performance indicators being self-regulated by the firms.
what do you think?
Water companies find it cheaper to install new reservoirs than to repair old pipework or install new. Unsurprisingly, they are in business to make a proft and until all consumers pay for metered water useage, they will continue to do so. The solution, it seems to me, is to charge all water users for what they take and to impose sanctions upon providers for what they waste.
Ah yes, self regulation. Didn't the bankers work miracles when they had self regulation. What did happen to all those billions of pounds they said we had?
Roy E Millington
if we are not getting the service promised can we all apply for a rebate? all water companies should be forced by law to aim for a no leakage strategy and aim to repair all leaks 48 hours.If they fail to do this they should be fined and customers given the money back!!
I pay insurance for my pipes and since paying this insurance have had numerous leaks - always in the same place. They come out to repair the leak and months later it is leaking again. I was so fed up that I complained vigorously and the workman rang his boss and asked if he could make a proper repair - which he did. The last time I had a renewal notice the bill had gone up from £35 to £122 - because I had so many leaks. I pointed out to them it was their fault as they were not doing a proper job. The insurers are a subsidiary of the Water Company. What a rip off. I am elderly and I believe they thought I was an easy target.
How did selling off our public water companies to private companies benefit the British people? We can't switch suppliers can we? for a better deal. I suspect that a lot of politicians ended up with a nice well paying non-job on the boards of the privatised utilities.
if we actually owned anything in this country we could police and manage things better to make sure things got done properly.thanks to maggie thatcher selling off important essential energy and utilities.sorry for that.saying that state owned business doesnt always work well but even state owned business a small sensible profit could be reinvested back into the network on a yearly basis to improve the infrastructure.has for water meters either make them compulsory or have unmetered bills.people who a fairly careful with water use should have a cheap bill say 200pound tops to excessive being say 500pounds.i dont agree with this partially being on the old rateable value of the house should not make any difference.has for flooding areas pump water out the rivers into the reservoisr.trouble is that costs money.these businesses are privately owned and mainly foreign owned so why is it in there favour to give a toss about it and spend money if they dont have to.its to make profit pure and simple.i dont like it but i dont blame them.we should do the same in there countrys but they have more sense.
Unfortunately the nationalised industries were very badly run, overmanned and were heavily subsidised by the state (taxpayers). There were no profits to re-invest. Can see why it was thought that as private companies they would make money and any redevelopment costs would be found by the company. The theory was good.
Gary W Beard
I've been waiting for Southern Water to fix a leak outside my house for three months. When i asked how long it would take to repair i was told "about a year". The water companies are not interested in making repairs, it makes no difference to them, as they can simply implement a hose-pipe ban whenever they feel like it.
Simple solution... Use bigger diameter pipes and lower pressures. This means that the pipes won't burst as often and the customer will notice no difference.
whats the point of us paying for a water watchdog when they can't enforce the foreign utility owners to make repairs instead of us paying through the nose and having to endure hosepipe bans whilst they sit back and watch the water drain away - waste of money all round
I think somebody may be misimformed most joints on large diameter HPPE pipe are electrofusion, which means welded and a correctly welded joint is in fact stronger than other sections of the pipe
That's what I thought too! But I suppose there are lots of screw compression jionts whereever there are valves and 'manifolds' ??
when are we going to have somebody in power brave enough to re nationalise our public services the present sytem is not working
The old system did not work either. Badly run had to be subsidised hugely by the taxpayer etc. etc.
2.29 gigalitres/min ? , no need to worry about me dripping bath tap then !
I was told, years ago, if I remember correctly, in some British Army school, overseas, that the Victorians used to make water pipes using lead. That's pronounced Led, for anyone who doesn't know. Lead, of course, is known to be an unhealthy substance. High-density polyethylene is probably equally, if not more unhealthy. That's only my guess. These pipes, I expect, are possibly made from biodegradeable materials like supermarket shopping bags. This plastic seems to corode quite noticeably in the garden. Infact, now I think of it, just today, I knocked over an old car wash and wax substance bottle and the plastic lid of that is about ten years old. My finger went straight through the plastic lid and it just crumbled into fragments. We're probably all full of plastic molecules. It's famous for turning river frogs into all females and tadpoles, too. Tadpoles are frogs? Isn't a tadpole a fish? The corner pieces of HDPE pipes go a strange colour after not very long in cold weather and look very brittle.
In part you are corect about plastic . However its not the weather that causes it to break down and become britle it is infact exposure to sunlight (e.g., ultra-violet radiation). and aslong as the pipe remains under ground it should be free from the problem.
they would make a lot more effort to get it right if it was oil
The Victorians used metal to make the pipes. They lasted 100 years. So why don't they replace them with metal pipes?
Is it just me or is losing 2.29m litres a second just a little excessive (circa 300 bn a year). I had a minor problem with an overflow pipe that leaked about a bucket a day and was sent letters telling me off and demanding i fix it. Maybe i should have written back and asked them to fix theirs first!