Leaky infrastructure wasting 3.17bn litres of water a day

30 August 2018

The amount of water lost through the UK’s leaking infrastructure increased for the second year running, a watchdog has said.

Overall leakage levels rose by 1.5% in 2017-18 to 3.17bn litres of water a day, said a report by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), a consumer watchdog.

The report added the cold snap in March that caused water pipes across the country to burst  – leaving many businesses and houses without water – contributed to the increase but was “not fully responsible for it”.

Karen Gibbs, senior policy manager at CCWater, said: “Water companies must take action to reduce leakage and improve the resilience of their networks if they want to encourage consumers to commit to using water wisely themselves.”

The report said nine water companies failed to meet their leakage reduction targets. Ofwat, the industry regulator, has recommended water companies set a target of a 15% reduction in water leakages between 2015-20. However, this is a guideline and companies can set their own targets.

Portsmouth Water saw the largest increase in losses through leaks at 8.2%, followed by South Staffs Water (3.6%) and United Utilities (3.3%), which covers the North West of England.

This is not the first time the water companies – which all control regional monopolies on the supply of water – have been criticised for not doing enough to prevent leakages. Earlier this year environment secretary Michael Gove called on the water utilities to spend more on infrastructure. “Despite the undoubted gains in efficiency and investment since privatisation, the system is not working as well as it should,” he said.

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