It’s probably impossible to weatherproof the water network, says Ofwat chief

According to Ofwat Chair, Iain Coucher, the cost of weatherproofing the network would be so high that it would be prohibitive

The Chief of Ofwat has suggested that it may be impossible to weatherproof the water network.

During the Vulnerability Summit 2023, which was organised by Ofgem, the Chair of Ofwat, Iain Coucher said: “In December, there was a temperature swing in a couple of days of 20 degrees centigrade – this would be the first major test of the water industry since the Beast from the East. So, what happened?

“Inevitably, there was significant and widespread disruption caused by the rapid thawing of frozen ground and I know people would like it not to be so, but this will always happen.

“It is probably impossible to weatherproof the network and any attempt to do so would be eye-watering expensive, prohibitively expensive.

“The scale of the impact was bigger than before. 240,000 people were cut off for more than four hours. 8,000 burst pipes, 20,000 leaks and compensation is probably like to exceed ten million pounds.”

The Ofwat Chief noted that in December 2022, the UK experienced another bout of extreme cold weather, which occurred four and a half years after the previous event.

During this period, the ground became very solid, followed by an unusual and swift thaw. Typically, thaws occur slowly over a week or two, but this one happened very quickly.

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