Water Industry News

2,000 Years To Replace Water Pipes!

Analysis of data taken from 2021 has revealed that it would take water suppliers in England a somewhat shocking 2,000 years to replace their water and wastewater pipes if they continue at current rates.


Carried out by the Angling Trust, the research found that, on average, water firms replace 0.05 per cent of the pipe network each year. In contrast, most European countries replace pipes along the network at around 0.5 per cent a year, with each pipe given an expected shelf life of around 200 years, the Guardian reports.


Where wastewater pipes are concerned, Severn Trent and Southern Water were found to be the worst performers with regards to replacement work, with average annual rates of 0.03 per cent. Meanwhile, South West Water and Northumbrian Water came top, with each replacing around 0.2 per cent of their respective networks each year.


In England, around three billion litres of water is lost through leaks along the pipe network every day – and crumbling infrastructure is one of the leading causes of this, making periods of drought even trickier to deal with.


Figures from Water UK show that Thames Water is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to water leaks, with 217 billion litres lost over the course of 2021/2022. Other suppliers facing critical leakage issues include Severn Trent, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water and Northumbrian Water.


Currently, the water sector reports leakage volumes to regulatory body Ofwat after they’ve been verified by external consultants. Ofwat’s own methodology is used to assess leaks, using a top-down approach that looks at water balance and a bottom-up calculation that considers minimum night flows in discrete metered areas.


These are then brought together using maximum likelihood estimate statistical methods, but because the system itself is so complex, there is some uncertainty regarding the accuracy of the figures presented.


The industry organisation observed that provisional leakage volumes are currently at the lowest they’ve been since privatisation, but noted that standards are still not yet high enough.


It went on to add: “Over the last 20 years, we’ve imposed fines, penalties and secured spending commitments totalling over £339 million specifically for failure on leakage. This money has been used to improve performance, and where appropriate, money has been returned to customers at the expense of shareholders.


“Companies’ performance on leakage has been improving in recent years but it is still not good enough … Where they fail, we will act to hold them to account.”


If, as a business, you’re keen to reduce your own water leak rates, get in touch with us here at SwitchWaterSupplier.com to see how we can help. One of the best and most immediate ways to reduce leaks across premises is to have a site audit carried out, which will reveal any weak or vulnerable areas and identify any spikes in usage that could suggest you have a leak on your hands.