1. ITV Report

Nearly a fifth of our water supply is lost through leaks

The Anglia region loses nearly 500 million litres of water a day through leaky pipes and dripping taps. Photo:

One in six litres in East Anglia's water supply is being lost through leaks in the system. According to figures from the regulator Ofwat, water companies in the Anglia Region are losing nearly 500 million litres of water every day. That's enough to fill 70,000 Olympic swimming pools a year or one every eight minutes.

Enough water leaks in the Anglia region to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 8 minutes.

Anglian Water says 17 percent of the leakage comes from customers' own private pipes. The company spent £14 million pounds tackling the problem on the pipe network last year - fixing 24,000 leaks since April 2011. But it's still losing 212 million litres every day.

Ed Bloomfield is one of 300 technicians employed by Anglian Water to find and fix leaks. He uses a listening device to "tap in" to the sounds made by water running through the pipes and identify problems underground.

John Clare, a spokesman for Anglian Water explained why there weren't more teams on the ground to save more water. "We could have 3,000 or 30,000 technicians," he said, "but there comes a point when that's going to have an impact on people's bills and we have to strike a balance between what people are prepared to pay for and what is right."

Anglian Water supplies 1.2 billion litres of water every day.

Terry Page, from Stotfold in Bedfordshire, thinks water companies should respond more quickly to save water. He told Anglia News that he'd reported a leak, on the road outside his house,a month ago. But within days of a team coming to fix it, he discovered another leak in the same spot. After a second visit, he hopes the problem has finally been resolved. "To some extent you can have sympathy with them over the repairs," he said. "But I have no sympathy with the mess they left behind and I have no sympathy whatsoever with the amount of time it took me to get through to Anglia Water. I must have been on the phone to them six to eight times."

The latest leakage figures available from Ofwat are for 2010/11. These are how the water companies in the Anglia region are doing:

  • Anglian Water - 230 million litres lost per day
  • Cambridge Water - 13.7 million litres lost per day
  • Veolia Water Central - 181 million litres lost per day
  • Veolia Water East - 6 million litres lost per day

According to Ofwat, where companies have consistently failed to manage leakage over the past six years, the regulator has made them invest more than £200 million of their own money putting the problem right. It also points out that leakage in England and Wales have fallen by a third since its mid-90s peak.

There are more than 340,000km of pipes across England and Wales. Laid end to end, they could circle the equator eight and a half times And there are around 23 million properties and associated supply pipes which all have the capacity to leak.

A hosepipe ban is in force in the Anglian Water and Veolia Water Central areas from Thursday 5 April 2012

A hosepipe ban is being introduced in the Anglian Water and Veolia Water Central areas from Thursday 5 April 2012. Click here for more details

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