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Cold snap hits water leakage rates

An upturn in temperatures following the UK’s cold snap has led to a spate of burst pipes and caused leakage rates in the Severn Trent Water area to soar.

Severn Trent usually deals with 1,600 calls per day about burst pipes in January, but the company was forced to draft in additional resources to control leakages “as rapidly as possible” as the number of calls doubled in the first month of 2010.

Water suppliers have seen a huge rise in the number of burst pipes as previously frozen water expands within their own network and customers’ pipes.

Severn Trent - which maintains a 46,000 km system of pipes and serves a population of more than eight million people from the Bristol Channel to the Humber and from mid-Wales to the East Midlands - said it was too early to judge the impact on annual leakage rates, which are monitored by Ofwat.

The firm also said it had seen signs of stabilisation in bad debt levels during the last quarter, as well as the fall-off in water usage by recession-hit businesses, and year-on-year declines in business usage are now expected to cost up to £10 million in revenues instead of the £20 million first feared.