Cambs water companies warn of another cold snap after more than 3,000 burst pipes in December

WATER companies in Cambridgeshire warned customers to be ready for another cold snap soon after revealing that more than 3,000 pipes burst in the region this month.

“We are fixing the burst pipes more quickly than new ones are being reported,” a spokesman for Anglian Water said.

“There has definitely been an increase in the number of bursts across the region – about 3,000 involving serious loss of water that threatens homes since mid-December – but we don’t think anyone has been cut off as a result.

“We have fixed around 2,000 of them and most of the rest have been inspected and scheduled into the repairs programme.”

Some customers had been without water, however, as a result of burst pipes on their own premises, which are not the water companies’ responsibility.

The spokesman said: “However, we are advising them on how to deal with that. The first thing is to know where your stop-tap is, so that you can limit the damage. Then call a plumber.

“But we are told that the cold weather will return, so this is the chance to make sure your pipes are properly lagged and you are as ready as you can be.”

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As the ground freezes the earth expands and then contracts again as it thaws. This causes the pipes to move and increases the risk of burst mains.

Among this month’s incidents was a burst pipe underneath the road in Weasenham Lane, Wisbech, on December 21. Water flooded much of the road and the car park of nearby Crown Packaging.

Eleven significant failures were recorded over a three-day period by Cambridge Water, which supplies parts of the county.

Managing director Stephen Kay added: “In an ideal world many of the pipes that burst would be replaced, and our long-term aim is to increase the length of water main we renew each year to keep bursts and disruption to a minimum.

“However, in the current economic climate we need to balance this aim with the need to keep customers’ bills as low as possible. In the short term we may have to deal with increasing numbers of mains failures made worse by the exceptional weather.

“We cannot perform miracles, but I hope our actions over the festive period demonstrate that we will always try to make the best judgments possible for the benefit of all our customers – no matter when or where they need us.”

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