Further to the burst water mains in King Street – shortly followed by ones in Goldhawk Road – many have been asking about the cause.
Some recall there being an investment to upgrade the system in recent years. The main roads were torn up, new pipes put in, signs announced that the Victorian mains were being replaced, to prevent leaks. What went wrong?
A member of the Thames Water Local and Regional Government Liaison responds as follows?
“Thank you for your email 7 April regarding the burst water mains on King Street and Goldhawk Road and the request for further information. I am very sorry for the delay in responding to your earlier request.
We initially received reports of a leak in King Street on 26 January and attended to investigate the same day. On arrival we discovered a significant leak, which had caused the carriageway to lift as well as damage the footpath. It may be helpful to explain we have four different mains supply pipes in the immediate area from which the leak was showing. Our investigations confirmed the water was coming from one of the three 30 inch mains and plans were made to isolate and make safe the area, while the permanent repair was arranged. Unfortunately, before we could complete this work and pinpoint the leak, further reports were received of a new and major burst at the same location. Our teams worked extremely hard to replace the damaged section of pipework and repairs were successful.
At the same time as the burst main on King Street, we received a report on 31 January of a major burst on Goldhawk Road. We investigated, identified the source of the leak and arranged a permanent repair which has been completed.
We are carrying out tests on the damaged sections of pipe, which are now at our Innovation Centre, to help us better understand the cause of both incidents. This will allow us to determine why the leak happened and help prevent further incidents occurring.
In respect of the water network in King Street and Goldhawk Road, these are trunk mains and were not included in our Victorian Mains Replacement Programme. However, at the beginning of January 2017, we did replace approximately 100 meters of distribution pipework on King Street by the Kings Mall Shopping Centre.
To date, we have replaced almost 100km of our pipework, with our initial focus being on replacing sections of our network that were prone to leaks and bursts. Moving forward, we will be considering areas for further work, especially in areas where we have not yet completed a full Victorian Mains Replacement Programme.
We have several monitoring devices in the area which are designed to record pressure levels. We have asked our contractor to carry out a review of these devices and confirm if it would be possible to adjust them. If it is, we will then use the data to receive earlier indications of changes or issues within our network. Unfortunately, there are no monitors in place on the pipework that was previously affected.
To assist with our monitoring of King Street, we have now installed a specialist chamber that will help us to monitor our network more effectively in the future. Using this technology, we have already undertaken an acoustic survey of our network in the vicinity to ensure there was no other nearby leaks. Turning to Goldhawk Road, we took the opportunity to install an additional valve onto the main as part of our repair work. This will give us an enhanced level of control over our network in the area and assist with resilience. “