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Thames Water lays new pipes to protect South London water supply from future bursts and leaks

Friday 11th February 2022 13:50

Engineers carrying a new section of pipe

More than 1.5km of new water pipes will be installed in Lewisham to protect residents from disruptive bursts.

The £4.5 million project will see Thames Water working alongside gas company SGN to install pipes between 16 and 22 inches in diameter in Westhorne Avenue, near the busy South Circular in Lewisham borough, strengthening the local network and preventing future leaks and bursts.

The two companies have been working with the Mayor of London’s Infrastructure Team, the London boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich and Transport for London to deliver the project collaboratively with the aim of reducing disruption for local residents.

Work is due to start on Monday (February 14) and will last for two weeks, before continuing on the road towards Clifton’s roundabout until September. The entire project is expected to be completed by November.

As part of an innovative “dig-once” approach, the water pipe replacement works will be carried out simultaneously as SGN replaces existing metal gas mains and services with modern plastic pipes, saving 14 days of disruption for residents and businesses. Initial work started in Baring Road, Lewisham, last month and SGN will also be working in nearby St Mildreds Road, between the junctions of Birch Grove and Burnt Ash Hill, with a lane closure to ensure the safety of engineers and members of the public.

Last year, Thames Water announced London’s Victorian water network is set to receive a major overhaul to increase water resilience thanks to a £300 million contribution from Thames Water’s owners.

The unprecedented investment matches the £300 million already included in the company’s spending plans for the 2020-2025 investment period. It will improve service by accelerating work to reduce leaks and bursts - increasing the resilience of the capital’s pipe network to the impacts of climate change and helping secure water supplies for future generations.

The South East is classified as “seriously water stressed” due to population increases and climate change and by 2040 it is forecast that demand in the region will outstrip supply by 414 million litres – the equivalent needed by around two million people – unless action is taken now. However, a recent survey by water industry consumer champions CCW showed two in five people living in water stressed areas, including the south-east of England, think water is a plentiful resource(1).

Kieran Ingram, Thames Water’s head of water networks, said: “A key part of our company turnaround plan is fixing the basics, and this important project will help us protect the water supply of thousands of Londoners for the future.

“By working collaboratively with SGN and digging just once for both water and gas works, we hope to reduce disruption for residents and motorists, saving an extra two weeks of work.

“As London’s population continues to grow and we deal with the impact of climate change, it’s more important than ever that we look after our water networks and ensure as much water as possible makes it to where it is needed.

“This work will ensure we have a robust water network in the area and allow us to continue providing a reliable water supply to our customers.”

Neil Baxter, Stakeholder and Collaboration Projects Manager at SGN, added: “We’ve worked closely with Thames Water and the local authorities in planning this work and we will be doing everything we can to limit disruption during our essential project.

“We appreciate that roadworks can be frustrating, however, the new plastic pipe has a minimum lifespan of 80 years. This means once the work has been completed, Lewisham homes and businesses will enjoy the benefits of a continued safe and reliable gas supply for many years to come."

(1) WaterVoice: Views of current customers on water resources, October 2021, surveyed 1,870 customers in England and Wales to gauge how aware people were of the pressure on water supplies where they live. It also explored what customers think their water company should be doing to promote water efficiency. Full findings here.