Thames Water under fire for service failures

Thames Water has come under renewed criticism following a series of service failures in London over the Christmas period.

The water company has been told it must step up efforts to reduce the risk of water supply incidents, such as a pump failure which left thousands without water on Christmas Day and a series of pipe bursts in December.

“It is enormously frustrating for people to be left without a water supply on Christmas Day but we’re particularly concerned that this is the latest in a series of service failures to affect thousands of consumers across London,” CCWater London and South East chair Tony Redmond told Utility Week.

“A reliable water supply is a priority for customers and Thames needs to look closely at whether it could do more to reduce the risk of these incidents occurring.”

Redmond’s comments come on top of criticism from the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said before Christmas that people were “rightly furious it appears lessons are not being learnt”. A spokesperson for the London Mayor’s office also told Utility Week that it was “appalling” that water supplies had been cut off on Christmas Day.

“Londoners will rightly demand assurances from Thames Water to prevent this happening again,” they said.

Water regulator Ofwat has said the incidents could affect a number of Thames Water’s performance commitments, such as asset health water infrastructure; service incentive mechanism; and customer satisfaction surveys.

Thames told Utility Week that the recent disruption “serves as a clear reminder that we must continue to keep investing heavily in our ageing network, with many pipes in London well over 100 years old”.

“Getting access to these pipes which run under incredibly busy roads adds to the problem, but we’re exploring all options possible to reduce the risk of any further disruption.”

A team of experts at the water company are “fully investigating all the recent events”, and will recommend how the company can improve its service to customers, the spokesperson added.

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