Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management - SIMPLER SYSTEM, LESS LEAKS?
Fixing leaks in supply pipes could reduce leakage by 30%. In its new policy position statement ‘Water Supply Pipes’, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), has called on water companies to adopt customer-owned water supply pipes. This would enable more scope for leakage reduction and lead pipe replacement.
Responsibility for the pipes that supply drinking water to a property is shared between property owners and water companies. In the UK water companies own the water mains and in the majority of situations, water companies are also responsible for the pipes between the water main and the boundary of a customer’s property. However the section of pipe taking water from the company's stop-tap into the house belongs to the householder or property owner. This is known as the water supply pipe. Around 30% of leaked water is estimated to arise from customer-owned water supply pipes, yet many customers are unaware of their responsibility to keep the supply pipe in good order and to fix leaks.
An initial cost benefit analysis conducted by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) on water company adoption of supply pipes, concluded that it would cost an additional £4 per property per year which would be added onto consumers’ water bills. Whilst increasing water bills can be seen as contentious, this is offset by the fact that the property owner would no longer need to pay for any repairs, maintenance or insurance for their water supply pipe (estimated at around £35 per property per year).
The benefits of water company adoption include, allowing the economic level of leakage calculations to include supply pipe replacement as a demand-side intervention; the development of supply pipe serviceability criteria; improved opportunities for innovation and operational performance and improved customer relations in the longer term.
CIWEM’s Executive Director, Nick Reeves OBE, says:
“Transferring the ownership of water supply pipes from customers to the water companies, including the related cost, needs to be part of a much needed holistic approach to improved leakage reduction and lead pipe replacement. This change will make it easier for water companies to intervene and fix leaks. It will also provide them with the valuable data that is essential for more robust and effective leakage management.”
Related categories: Water conservation and supply