Millions of people in Thames Valley and London have been urged to cut back on water usage as Thames Water hosepipe ban has come into force.
People will not be able to use hosepipes to water gardens, wash cars and fill paddling pools.
The company said: “After the driest July on record, and below average rainfall in ten of the last 12 months, water levels in our rivers and reservoirs are much lower than usual.
“We have more teams reducing leakage than ever before, working 24/7 to find and fix more than 1,100 leaks every week. The recent heatwaves mean that demand for water is also at record levels.”
According to the GMB Union, Thames Water wastes the same amount of water as having a hosepipe on for more than 73 years – every single day.
Andy Prendergast, GMB National Secretary, said: “You could have had a hosepipe on constantly since before the Queen was on the throne and you still wouldn’t have used as much as Thames Water wastes in just 24 hours.
“Instead of spending money to fix the leaky infrastructure, they are showering directors with eye-watering sums. It’s jaw-dropping incompetence and greed.”
A Thames Water spokesperson told ELN: “We know it’s not acceptable to be losing so much precious water and we’re doing something about it. It’s not going to be quick, but we’re making progress and we’ve met our target for the last three years to reduce leaks by 10%.
“Our aim is to reduce our leakage by 20% between 2020 and 2025. Since the extreme heatwave, we have seen the number of leaks at least double compared to previously – partly due to ground movement and partly due to the higher pressures we pumped at to meet demand which hit a 27-year high in some places.
“We have 160 repair teams working tirelessly to fix leaks with activity taking place seven days a week and over 280 people working round the clock and mainly overnight to detect leaks not yet appearing at ground level. We are repairing over 1,100 leaks per week – whether they are visible or hidden below ground.
“We prioritise repair work to ensure we focus on the bigger leaks first and importantly those affecting service to customers.
“We also have an extensive capital programme to help us fix more leaks in the future.”