Southern Water losing tens of millions of litres of water each day to leaking pipes

TENS of millions of litres of water are lost by a water company every day due to leaking pipes, new analysis shows.
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Data compiled by National World shows that in 2020/21, an average of 98.5m litres of water leaked each day in Southern Water's network.

For Portsmouth Water, 25.4m litres leaked each day for the same time period – the equivalent of 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth.

An aerial view of houses in Portchester showing how dry the ground is Picture: Finnbarr Webster/Getty ImagesAn aerial view of houses in Portchester showing how dry the ground is Picture: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
An aerial view of houses in Portchester showing how dry the ground is Picture: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
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The worst offender for leaks was Thames Water, with an average of 685.6m litres of water leaking each day.

Southern Water also paid out £4m in dividends in 2021 - although this was the lowest of all water companies.

The company introduced a hosepipe ban earlier this month in response to forecasts of 'very little meaningful rain' - and soon after, a drought was also declared.

Still in place today, the ban has been enforced in areas where Southern Water supplies the water. Portsmouth and the surrounding towns are excluded from this as Portsmouth Water supplies the water, while Southern Water deals with waste water.

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However, the consensus from readers has been that if the water network didn't have any leaks, there would be no need for the ongoing ban.

But Southern Water believes that since the ban was imposed, water usage for the average customer has been significantly reduced.

A spokesman for the water company said: 'We cannot tell customers not to use hoses if we aren’t playing our part by cracking down on leaks. Historically Southern Water has had very good leak performance. We fixed 22,000 in 2021 and every week we are fixing 250 in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

'With 7,000 acoustic loggers detecting and pinpointing stealthy leaks on major pipes far below ground and no visible sign on the surface we’ve got leakage in Southampton area down to below 10 per cent. The level is higher in more challenging rural areas but we continue to make strong progress.

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'Customers understand why the hosepipe ban is necessary and are acting to protect the precious chalk rivers Test and Itchen with usage dropping for the average customer by 40 litres the day after the ban was imposed.'

As water companies are regulated by Ofwat and the Environment Agency, Hampshire County Council has no concrete authority over water suppliers.

But Councillor Edward Heron, executive lead member for transport and environment strategy, says everyone has a duty to help out - water companies and residents alike.

He said: 'Along with most residents I agree that we must conserve water supplies during the extended dry period, and to ensure that Hampshire’s rivers are protected from the effects of reduced flows.

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'Clearly water leaks are a problem, and we will continue to encourage the water companies to do all they can to reduce the amount of water which is wasted through leakage.'

Southern Water has encouraged people to ‘gently remind’ their neighbours of the restrictions if they see them breaching the hosepipe ban.

Portsmouth Water has previously stated that it has no plans for a hosepipe ban but has asked customers to use water ‘sparingly'.