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99 Olympic swimming pools worth of water leaked by utility companies serving East Anglia every day, watchdog’s report reveals

PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 06:22 06 December 2017

Billions of litres of water are being leaked by utility companies across the UK according to a new report. Stock image. Picture: MATTHEW USHER

Billions of litres of water are being leaked by utility companies across the UK according to a new report. Stock image. Picture: MATTHEW USHER

© Archant Norfolk 2013

Millions of litres of water were leaked by companies covering East Anglia every day during 2016-17, a new report reveals.

The amount of water leaked from Anglian Water and Essex & Suffolk Water in 2016/17. Graphic: EMILY TOWNSEND The amount of water leaked from Anglian Water and Essex & Suffolk Water in 2016/17. Graphic: EMILY TOWNSEND

According to research published today by the Consumer Council for Water, Anglian Water’s overall leakage level increased slightly to 180 million litres per day, while Essex & Suffolk Water’s was 68.1 million – an increase of almost 10% (9.1%) from 2015-16.

The overall water leakage figure from utility companies across England and Wales climbed to 3.1 billion litres a day.

Now the consumer watchdog’s chief executive, Tony Smith, is calling on utility companies to take action. He said: “Consumers view leakage as a dreadful waste and it can drain their own motivation to save water.

“Some water companies need to show much more ambition in tackling leaks, otherwise all of our efforts to encourage consumers to use water more wisely will fall on deaf ears.”

The report also works out the amount of water leaked per property per day.

On average, 85.1 litres are lost on a daily basis from properties supplied by Anglian Water in 2016-17, compared with the 83.3 litres reported by Essex & Suffolk Water. Both fall below the industry average of 121 per day.

Essex & Suffolk Water reported one of the biggest leakage increases – up 8.1% from 2015-16 – in the country.

Water director John Devall said: “Reducing leakage is one highest priorities as an organisation and although we’ve seen an increase in leakage levels in the Essex and Suffolk areas we are committed to tackling and improving this.

“This increase is mostly down to the fact that 2016 was one of the driest periods on record for more than 100 years in our region.

“This had a big impact on the clay soils that we find across most of our supply area. When the clay dries out it moves and often results in fractured pipes. Despite putting additional resources and investment into repairing and replacing pipes as quickly as possible, the extreme ground conditions resulted in a significant increase in the number of bursts and leaks on ours and our customers’ pipes.

“We will not stop in our battle to reduce leakage and we are investing millions of pounds each year in our network to keep leakage as low as possible.

He added: “Going forward we are further increasing the number of teams we have out proactively looking for leaks and the number of repair crews we have available to help reduce repair times even further.

“We are also investing in new technologies, working in innovative ways, with cutting edge partners to drive leakage down.

“With thousands of kilometres of pipes, we’d also encourage our customers to help us and report it if they spot a leak.

Anglian Water bosses said their region is the largest of any water company in England and Wales. They supply just over a billion litres of water a day, along enough pipes to reach to Sydney and back, a spokeswoman added.

Sean McCarthy, head of leakage, said: “Our leakage rates are already around half the national average in terms of leaks per kilometre of pipe.

“Leakage is something we take hugely seriously, we know it’s important to our customers and tackling it is vital in reducing our environmental footprint.

“We are committed to beating our regulatory targets and driving down leakage even further by 2020.

He added: “To do this we are widening our focus so that we are not only finding and fixing leaks but preventing them from happening in the first place.

“We are installing state of the art smart valves across our network to reduce pressure fluctuations and protect pipes from bursting.”

“We hate leaks as much as our customers do.

“We know there is lots more work to be done and we are determined to drive our leakage levels even lower.

“We’re investing £60million this year in tackling the issue and we’re starting to install smart meters in some areas which will help us locate leaks faster than ever before.”

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