Water supply issues in Cranfield Image: slonme AdobeStock_120832046

Breaks in the supply and low water pressure affecting villagers

Residents in Cranfield and the surrounding area have experienced many water outages over the last six months. There have been five major issues since December 2018.

This number doesn’t include the more localised problems, such as burst pipes and cloudy water.

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) said that without knowing the causes behind these interruptions it’s difficult for it to draw conclusions on the outages. But it added that it would not expect the same customers to be affected by this number of unplanned interruptions, in such a short space of time.

Carl Pegg, head of Consumer Relations at the Consumer Council for Water, said:

“People expect a reliable supply of tap water and should not be experiencing frequent, unplanned disruption which can cause enormous inconvenience to homes and businesses.”

Increase in housing “putting pressure on water resources”

The number of homes in the area has grown rapidly over the last ten years. CCWater said that the increase of new homes does not mean that the water system has reached ‘breaking point’.

But it added that along with climate change, population growth is undoubtedly putting increasing pressure on water resources and infrastructure.

To counter this, water companies need to invest heavily in maintaining and strengthening the water infrastructure so it can stand up to these challenges.

Asked if Anglian Water is consulted by Central Bedfordshire Council over planning matters, an Anglian Water spokesperson said:

“Although Anglian Water is not a statutory consultee for planning, we are legally obliged to ensure new homes can be connected to our water network.

“We are investing in our infrastructure to bolster supplies to Cranfield and the surrounding area, this will ensure our network is resilient and can meet the needs of a growing population and any future growth in the area.”

Anglian Water Borehole drilling at Aspley Guise in Bedfordshire. May 9 2019  Matthew Power Photography

New Bedfordshire borehole 

The expansion of the water network includes a £1.2million investment to replace an existing borehole in Aspley Guise. It is being replaced after over 70 years in operation.

Hannah Stanley-Jones, head of Water Resources for Anglian Water, said:

“The site in the heart of Bedfordshire dates as far back as 1901 when a well was constructed to allow water abstraction from the Lower Greensand aquifer.

“It was likely that the well began supplying water to the local area around 12 or 13 years before the First World War began.

“Boreholes are essentially large shafts which are driven into the ground, allowing us to abstract the groundwater by pumping it to the surface to be treated before making its way onto local homes and businesses.”

The Lower Greensand aquifer is approximately 60m deep. Anglian Water has a number of boreholes at the site, the deepest of which is 61m. Hannah Stanley-Jones said:

“We are investing in this work to ensure we continue to supply safe, clean drinking water to the public for many years to come.

“If successful this new borehole will be able to do just that.”

Water companies, including Anglian Water, have made a series of commitments to improve infrastructure as part of the ongoing price review. Ofwat will make a final decision on what companies have to invest over the next five years in December 2019.

When asked Anglian Water did not say why the Cranfield area had experienced the recent outages, however its spokesperson said:

“We’re sorry some customers in Cranfield have recently been experiencing intermittent low water pressure.

“Our teams are currently carrying out some investigations on our network and nearby pumping stations to pin point the cause of the issue.

“Should residents experience an episode of low pressure or any issue with their water supply they should notify us via our call centre on 03457 145 145.”

Unhappy customer By pathdoc AdobeStock_69793015

Support for consumers unhappy with their water company

If a resident is unhappy with any aspect of their water supply they should complain to their water company in the first instance.

If they are unhappy with the response, they can contact CCWater for free advice and support. It can be contacted on 0300 034 2222 or emailed at enquiries@ccwater.org.uk

CCWater’s Carl Pegg said:

“Customers who feel they are getting a poor or unreliable service should complain to their water company initially. If it’s not resolved they can contact us for free support and advice with their complaint, including whether they might be entitled to redress from their supplier.

“Every year we help thousands of people resolve complaints and successfully challenge companies to improve their service.”

Compensation for low water pressure

The Citizens Advice website says that if water pressure falls below the minimum for an hour or more on at least two occasions in a 28 day period, you’re entitled to a payment or credit of £25. This is limited to one payment in one financial year.

It excludes occasions that are due to drought or essential maintenance work by the water company or maintenance work on your property.

Emergency interruptions to your water supply

If your water supply is interrupted by an emergency the water company must restore the supply within 12 hours of becoming aware of the problem. This increases to 48 hours if the problem is in a strategic main pipe.

If your water supply isn’t restored on time consumers are usually entitled to compensation of £20 for the first 24 hours and £10 for each further 24 hour period the supply remains unrestored
There is also a payment should the water company fail to pay the compensation on time.

There are some circumstances where you won’t be entitled to compensation, such as exceptional weather conditions or industrial action.

Visit the Citizens Advice website for more information.