Affinity, Southern & South East Water lose 4 Bewl Water reservoirs to leakage each year

Water is arguably the most important commodity on Earth. Humans don’t tend to last long without it. Water covers 70% of our planet, and it is easy to think that it will always be plentiful. However, freshwater—the stuff we drink, bathe in, irrigate our farm fields with—is incredibly rare. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.

In the UK nearly three billion litres of water is lost to leaky pipes every day, and between Affinity Water, Southern Water & South East Water who serve all of Kent and elsewhere, they lose almost 12% of that 3bn litres, every day, or nearly one in eight litres of water lost to leakages in their pipes each day.

Today in The Observer, Sir John Armitt, chair of the  National Infrastructure Committee has said central government must act now on water or face emergency queues on the streets. Failure to act now would leave Britain facing a future of queueing for emergency bottled water “from the back of lorries

Between the three companies they lost 142 Olympic swimming pools of water a day in 2020/21, or 51,874 Olympic swimming pools of water in a year, due to leakage within their systems.

Southern Water’s average annual water leakage for the 12 months of 2021/22 was, 94.9 megalitres per day (Ml/d) or 34,638,500,000 billion litres across the year.

Affinity Water’s average annual water leakage for the 12 months of 2021/22 was, 161.5 megalitres per day (Ml/d), or 58,947,500,000 billion litres across the year.

South East Water’s average annual water leakage for the 12 months of 2021/22 was 88.7 megalitres a day (ML/d), or 32,375,500,000 billion litres across the year.

Leakage is measured at night between 3am and 4am, when water usage is lower and more constant.

To put the leakage into perspective, the reservior at Bewl Water, near Tunbridge Wells, holds 31 million litres of water. The combined loss of water by all three companies in 2021/22, was equivalent to losing 4 reserviors of water the size of Bewl water in a year or one every three months.

And yet they threaten the public with hosepipe bans. In fact Southern Water have imposed a hosepipe ban in Hampshire & the Isle of Wight.

Over the last seven years they’ve lost on average 356.18 ml/d per day, due to leakage. The amount lost is equivalent to 29.35 Bewl Water sized reserviors in the last seven years, according to data taken from their annual reports.

When one does that maths for the last seven years, it means the amount of water lost to leakage by these three companies, would provide 29 gallons of water per person on the planet, or 232 pints per person on the planet.

When one looks in their annual statement of accounts, one see’s the bosses of these three companies have been rewarded exceptionally well for losing 29 Bewl Water reservoirs, to leakage across their pipe network, over the last seven years.

In 2009, the Environment Agency in their – River Basin Management Plan South East River Basin report – within which Kent sits, stated at page eight:

This river basin district has some of the highest levels of personal water use in the country, whilst, on average, the amount of water available per person is less than for Morocco or Egypt.

On average we in the South East basin consume 141 litres a day, and given the population of Kent is 1,576,100, according to ONS, that’s 222,230,100 litres a day, or 81,113,986,500 billion litres a year, or 2.61 bewl water reserviors every year. Hence why it is important for Affinity, Southern and South East Water to plug their leaks, as they are losing more water than we are consuming.

But it’s not just leaks they are bad at, it’s the polluting of our rivers as well. One only has to think about the Stodmarsh Nutrient Issue to realise the problem has been caused by a lack of investment which has a detrimental affect on residents, but a beneficial affect for shareholders, who’ve handsomely extracted dividends, while the environment pays the price.

The South East Basin report was updated in 2015 and states at pages 11 & 12:

Pollution from waste water – affecting 40% of water bodies in this river basin district

Pollution from rural areas – affecting 30% of water bodies in this river basin district

Pollution from towns, cities and transport – affecting 9% of water bodies in this river basin district

It’s clear the fact they’ve not invested in waste water treatment works as the South East Basin report makes abundantly clear.

The next River Basin Management Plan South East River Basin District report is due in 2023. Given what we know about the Stodmarsh Nutrient Issues; which affects some of the area  in pink on the map, pollution in our rivers, caused by phosphates and nitrates, is likely to get worse before it might get better.

As Affinity, Southern & South East Water lose more water than residents of Kent consume in a year. It’s only right and proper, that every Overview & Scrutiny Committee in all councils, in Kent, call the three companies in and ask them to explain, when they are going resolve the issues of leakage and pollution across Kent. They are in most part, responsible for any potential hosepipe ban which might be deemed necessary.

If we can’t put them on record informing the residents of Kent, exactly what they’re going to do, and by when, we might just be all dead and gone, due to this ever decreasing circle of available water, caused by leakage in pipes owned by their companies.

Lets hope our local Cllrs will listen, because acting sooner rather than later, might just benefit us all.

Finally, if you think the water won’t run out, this is exactly what happened in Challock (Kent) for six days, very recently, who are supplied by South East Water. Sooner or later, it will happen elsewhere in Kent as well.

The Shepway Vox

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2 Comments on Affinity, Southern & South East Water lose 4 Bewl Water reservoirs to leakage each year

  1. However they claim there will be no problem supplying water to the 10,000 homes at Otterpool Park.

  2. Southern water- 50%owned by an Australian Utility Investment Fund, 35% by a Pension Fund owns by the Canadian Government and 15% by a North American pension fund.
    Do you think they really have our best interests at heart?

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