Under pressure - water pressure management in London

Date published: 
01 March 2005

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The largely unseen 32,000 kilometres of piping delivers fresh water daily on demand to London’s seven and half million people. Thames Water is in charge of much of this vast and complex network. Maintaining and managing this system, much of it a hundred years old and in need of replacement or total overhaul, is a challenging and resource intensive task. The Health and Public Services Committee focuses on a number of serious concerns over the impact of a possible reduction in water pressure if Thames Water goes ahead with plans to lower water pressure across London with the aim of reducing leakage levels. In particular, the Committee highlights the following concerns:

  • the lack of communication between Thames Water and customers (including Local Authorities);
  • the likely cost of additional pumps and secondary backflow prevention devices needed to preserve water pressure levels and prevent contamination in buildings three storeys and above;
  • the impact on the economically and physically vulnerable;
  • concerns that constituents have been required, inappropriately, to enter into contracts for new pumping equipment;
  • the likely impact on combi-boilers and fittings;
  • the danger of “backflow” contamination;
  • the likely impact on the fire service.

The Committee made a series of recommendation to Thames Water and looks forward to a response within a two-month period.

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