James Frith raised concerns with United Utilities about a quarter of our water supply being lost through leakage while they plan to institute a hosepipe ban. Below is the latest update from their Chief Executive.

Following on from my last update it’s been just over a week since we announced that we would need to introduce a hosepipe ban from the 5th August, across the North West, unless there is significant rainfall. At the moment, that position hasn’t changed. We have had pockets of rain across the region and customer demand for water has stabilised but, unfortunately, it hasn’t been enough to improve our reservoir levels which are now at around 59 per cent full overall.

We have been doing all we can to reduce the need for the hosepipe ban by:-

  • increasing the inspections we carry out on rural mains;
  • using pressure management to conserve supplies, stopping non-essential capital work and maximising the production at treatment works to ensure as much water as possible continues to get into our network;
  • doubling the number of leakage repair teams, with over 100 dig and repair teams currently working across the region and we will be increasing that number further over the next few weeks. Our average completion rate of fixing leaks in the six months to March 2018 was 450 jobs per week. This has now risen to more than 750 per week, with well over 80 per cent of repairs completed within three days of being reported. We are very grateful to our local authorities who have been fast tracking their normal processes so we can quickly get the permissions we need to work on public roads and highways.

We’ve sent over 2.5 million texts, emails and letters to customers to make them aware of the ban and what it means for them. We’ve been out and about speaking to more than 15,000 customers at a number of public events and with the start of the school holidays we have roadshows planned through the summer. We have seen a huge increase in interactions with customers on our social media channels, and we have taken more than 1,000 calls via our dedicated hosepipe ban phone line from customers, all with questions about what this might mean for them.

This week our new TV water efficiency advert was broadcast and this will run until the end of August reinforcing the message that saving a little makes a big difference. ‘Every drop saves a lot’ is the strapline for our new campaign which we will be promoting across our social media platforms.

In addition to these measures to help manage water demand, we have submitted applications for drought orders and drought permits. These legal applications allow for additional water abstraction powers from the environment to supplement existing resources. Drought permit applications were submitted earlier in the week for Ullswater and Windermere and a drought order was submitted for Ennerdale. We plan to submit our next drought permit for Rivington this week and are developing further permit applications to be submitted next week.

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