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Thousands left without water due to faulty valve, Thames Water says

Company under fire over ‘unacceptable’ disruption

09 June, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Flashback to last month’s mains burst in Clerkenwell

A FAULTY valve caused thousands of residents to be left without water for hours following a mains burst in Clerkenwell two weeks ago, Thames Water has said.

The breach of the Victorian pipe sent water gushing down St John Street and flooded a pub’s basement at 2am on May 24 – six months after floods caused by a similar rupture wrecked homes and businesses in Angel.

The latest burst left families in Prebend Street, Coleman Fields, City Road and St Peter’s Street without running water on a day when temperatures hit 26C.

The water supply in Clerkenwell, Finsbury, Angel and parts of Hackney was affected and schools had to be closed.

The Town Hall said 2,400 council homes experienced low water pressure or had no water at all. Some residents reported having no running water for 27 hours. The water company has told the Tribune that it was at the scene within an hour and was able to quickly stop the damaged section of the pipe leaking.

But engineers then discovered there was a faulty valve elsewhere on the network. It was fixed in the early afternoon – some 12 hours after the burst was first reported – and water supplies were returning to normal by 6pm, Thames Water said.

It may have taken longer for people in high-rise flats, where internal pumps had to be reset.

Some residents in Coleman Fields reported that they were still without water the following morning.

Town Hall environment chief Claudia Webbe has accused the water firm of “misleading” Islington Council over the extent of the disruption.

She said: “Thames Water told the council initially that it was slow running water – low pressure – as opposed to no water at all.

“It was not until the afternoon that we realised many people, including some of our most vulnerable residents, had no water at all. It’s unacceptable that the lives of residents and businesses are disrupted in this manner.”

She added: “Our senior officers are in conversation with Thames Water about their complete failure to inform the council about what the next steps [regarding the pipe] are.”

Thames Water was expected to complete repair work to the St John Street pipe this week.

The company’s rapid response to the burst was in contrast to the situation in Angel in December last year, when it took four hours to stop water gushing out of a burst pipe in Upper Street.

That Victorian pipe is currently being completely replaced.

A Thames Water spokesman said: “We got to the burst in St John Street quickly, stopped the flow of water in the damaged section of pipe to stop it leaking and made the necessary adjustments to our network to return water supplies back to normal.

“Despite this, we continued to receive reports of no water and low pressure in the area and sent engineers to investigate further. It was then that we discovered a faulty valve elsewhere on our network, which was impacting our efforts to get customers back in water supply.

“We fixed this valve in the early afternoon and by 6pm water supplies were returning to normal.”

The spokesman added: “It may have taken longer for those in high-rise flats to come back into supply, as managing agents may have needed to reset internal pumps.”


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