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Water companies urged to employ plumbers to fix leaks
Published:  12 April, 2012

Lewes MP Norman Baker has urged two water companies to use local plumbing businesses to cut water leakage from households' dripping taps.

The Liberal Democrat MP wrote to Southern Water and South East Water, suggesting that the water companies could work with local plumbers to provide a subsidised tap fixing service, where the customer and water company shared the cost. He said that a broad estimate would suggest this partnership could save over 10,000 litres of water for every two leaky taps.

"When one considers that the average daily water use is around 150 litres per person, fixing just two taps could supply 66 days of water use," said Baker. "Not only that, but the idea could help to support local plumbers in tough economic times."

The introduction of the hosepipe ban on 5 April after a very dry start to the year, and growing concerns over falling water levels across the country, has increased the pressure on water companies to stop water leaking from old and broken pipes.

Figures from Waterwise, an independent not-for-profit organisation focused on decreasing water consumption in the UK, estimate that a total of over 3,365 megalitres of water leaked from utility company pipework every day last year. Southern Water reported leakages of 96 megalitres per day, while South East Water reported 95 megalitres. Leaks from some other water companies were much higher, with Thames Water reporting losses of 665 megalitres every day.

These figures, however, do not consider the vast amounts of water wasted through leaking household taps. Further research from Waterwise has estimated that a dripping tap can waste over 5,500 litres per year – enough to fill up a paddling pool every week for the whole summer.

Baker added: "Most of us have experienced a leaky tap in our homes, but I do not doubt we would all be surprised by just how much water a leaky tap wastes. When we currently have a local hosepipe ban I think water companies should be looking at all the possible ways that we can prevent waste, and fixing leaking taps is most certainly one of those ways.

"I am therefore encouraging the local water companies to tackle this problem and do so in a way that supports local small businesses. I am very hopeful that they will take forward my suggestion."