Water industry now ‘better prepared’ for extreme weather

A new industry report sets out actions taken by the water industry since the ‘Beast from the East’ damaged water pipes across the country.

In February 2018 the severe cold snap was followed by a quick return to warmer temperatures.

This quick freeze-thaw caused a significant increase in burst water pipes due to the impact of ground movement triggered by the temperature changes.

The pipe bursts, on companies’ water mains and in customer’s own water pipes, resulted in interruptions to water supplies in many areas across the country.

Water UK’s report highlights the sorts of actions already being taken by water companies this year to improve their response to future extreme weather-related events.

It also identifies areas for further collaborative work by the sector.

Action being taken by companies falls under three broad categories:

  • Planning and preparation: carrying out preparedness exercises, with lessons learnt from recent events, enhancing leakage detection and updating modelling scenarios
  • Stakeholder and customer engagement: reviewing the effectiveness of wider communication strategies and understanding what worked well in the deployment of alternative water supplies, and improving communications to customers ahead of the winter
  • Incident response: working proactively and collaboratively with multi-agency partners, such as Local Resilience Fora, and with the supply chain, to maximise the deployment of resources and facilitate a stronger response across larger numbers of affected customers.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of Water UK, said: ‘The impact of the ‘Beast from the East’ varied across the country, with Ofwat’s official report revealing that fewer than 3% of all customers were affected.

‘But we’re sorry to say that in some areas significant numbers of customers experienced disruption and hardship, and we are determined to prevent this happening again in future. That’s why we are committing to collective action alongside the measures which companies have already put in place, to ensure that the industry is in a far better place to deal with extreme weather this winter and beyond.’

Water UK has also identified priorities for further improvements such as bettering engagement with affected customers and sharing insights on the use of big data to understand network performance better.

Read the report here.


Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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