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How £300,000 water tower refurbishment will help reduce leaks

Wednesday 12th August 2020 10:29

Berinsfield water tower in south Oxfordshire

A landmark tower which can hold almost a million litres of drinking water is to be given a new lease of life during a £300,000 project by Thames Water to improve supplies and reduce leakage. 

At nearly 30 metres tall, Berinsfield Water Tower can be seen for miles around the south Oxfordshire countryside. Built in 1959, it supplied all 850 properties in the village but was taken out of service two years ago when regular inspections became too difficult due to problems accessing the tower.

As a result, the village's water is currently piped in from further afield. But the pressure needed to do this can put a strain where two sections of pipe meet, with the potential to cause leaks.

A water tower works by gravity, so bringing it back into action will reduce the need for water to be pumped through the network at pressure - and in turn reduce the risk of leaks.

Work is set to start this month and will include replacing the existing ladders with a safer staircase, along with improvements to the access road and security. The tower, which is as tall as 10 giraffes, is expected to be back in operation by December.

Rob Searle, Thames Water project manager, said: “Reducing leakage remains one of our key priorities, and bringing Berinsfield Water Tower back into service will help us achieve that. 

"We’re currently pumping water at a higher than normal pressure but with the tower back in action we can reduce the pressure in the network and the strain on the pipes.” 

Thames Water revealed in June it had achieved the water industry’s biggest reduction in leakage this century. Round-the clock data from nearly 450,000 smart meters helped the company find and repair a record number of leaks, hit its regulatory target and reduce overall leakage from its 20,000-mile network of pipes by 15 per cent in one year. 

It now has ambitious plans to continue modernising the region’s network by ramping-up the use of advanced digital technology and smart data to achieve a further 20 per cent reduction in leakage by 2025, and 50 per cent by 2050. 

The company has also cut supply interruptions – where customers are off water for more than four hours – by half over the last two years and recorded some of its best water quality scores. 

Steve Spencer, Thames Water operations director, said: “We’re determined to build on this momentum for another 20 per cent drop in leakage over the next five years, and then go much further as part of ambitious long-term plans to replumb London and the Thames Valley.

"We know there’s no room for complacency as we face even tougher targets, and that’s why we’re investing in our people and the best technology to keep upgrading our network.”