Thames Water knew of a leak on Northwold Road at the site of last Sunday’s flood – the result of a burst mains water pipe which affected 150 properties and flooded 20 businesses – for at least a week.
Thames Water had they had been aware of the leak since only Thursday, but local people said the leak had been going on for possibly as long as a week.
However, Eastlondonlines spoke to Transport for London (TfL) who said they had received a request from Thames Water to investigate the leak last Tuesday – and had granted this request almost immediately.
TfL said they had not received further requests for permission to carry out work to prevent the leak. Thames Water had earlier claimed that they did not take action prior to the pipe bursting because they needed permission before closing the road.
Sunday’s burst pipe resulted in the flood leaving water over a metre deep in some places. The flooding directly affected 350 residents, with many being unable to get in or out of their homes and some being evacuated by emergency services.
Kriangsuk Chinghirum, 64, the owner of Thai Cafe on Northwold Road, told ELL yesterday that when the pipe burst, “the water came really quick, like a canal, a river.” He added: “But the water leak has been there for at least a week. I think it was last Monday, lots of people reported it, even myself.”
This was echoed by other residents. David Bronks, 40, a cinematographer, couldn’t get out of his flat due to the flood. He said “[the leak] was there for seven days, there was a Thames Water thing round it, and sand bags. I live there…it was left completely unattended”.
“We investigated a number of smaller pipes running through that road, switching off and testing valves to find the leak on Thursday night,” Thames Water said in a statement today. “Repairing the larger pipe required careful planning, local authority permission to do the major work, and tweaks to our network to ensure we didn’t impact customer supply. We’re very frustrated we hadn’t been able to start that work before Sunday’s burst.”
There has been a 40% real times increase in water bills since water was privatised in 1989, and earlier this year, the public accounts committee said UK households were overpaying for water as a result of the regulator miscalculating price limits. Thames Water has paid its shareholders dividends of almost £2bn in the last decade.
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