AFTER days of water pouring from a main on Shute Hill, a Teignmouth man has said he’s incensed that this should happen while many people are still under water restrictions.

Walter D Smith contacted the Teignmouth Post to say: ‘Several days ago a water mains leak erupted on Shute Hill, Teignmouth, which as local people will know is situated on a hill.

‘The water leak is considerable with thousands of litres of water pouring down Shute Hill and onto the very busy main road Higher Brook Street in the vicinity of a pelican crossing and the railway station.

‘After several days of inactivity and the leakage getting worse I used Twitter to ask South West Water (SWW) what was happening.

‘At first they (SWW) said the job was waiting for a permit. I challenged this as the Traffic Management Act allows for ‘emergency work’ enabling utilities to start work in the public highway within an hour.

‘After my challenge SWW then said that they were putting cones out to attend the leak today (Monday).

‘I am now in London on business but I tweeted SWW and asked them to confirm they were onsite repairing the leak.

‘SWW came back and said they had been out but found out there was a business in the street so they would have to come back next Sunday to effect the repair! This is a failure of the original job assessment that is supposed to highlight any issues such as business premises.

‘However, SWW could have arranged to carry out the work after the business (dentist) is closed in the evenings. They have not bothered preferring to put off attempting a repair until another six days! In years past leaks like the one at Shute Hill would have been repaired the same day.

‘I am incensed that with customers in around half of the SWW area remaining under water usage restrictions that such a cavalier and hypocritical attitude is shown by the monopoly water company and the so-called water consumers regulator CC Water and the economic regulator OFWAT sit silently and permit such an unacceptable performance.

‘It is time that MPs looked into the usefulness of utility regulators and where they are failing to properly represent customers they should be axed.

‘The loss and devaluing of local knowledge and input from personnel in water companies on the ground in favour of central based command and control at places like SWW’s HQ is significant and leads to poor customer service outcomes.

‘SWW needs to face much greater rigour in terms of its operational performance.

‘Burst water mains should be repaired within a target time of 24 hours, at one time most water companies aimed at and met that target, now they tell customers to do one thing while they do the opposite if it suits them and we are left watching the waste!

‘We are also compelled to pay this monopoly provider for what is tawdry service.

‘Why should customers save water only to watch them that supply it waste water through indifference to repairing leakage which amounts to much more than a domestic customer uses or can save.’

SWW will carry out repair next week

A South West Water spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of a small leak on a water pipe at Salisbury Terrace.

‘Unfortunately, this leak could not be repaired immediately as the fix requires a road closure, but we can confirm that we will carry out the repair next week. With the South West remaining in drought following one of the driest periods in over 130 years, we are working at pace to find and fix more leaks across the region, repairing up to 2,500 leaks per month. We will keep local residents and businesses in Teignmouth updated and we would like to thank customers for their patience.’

‘Background: The leak was not repaired immediately as the fix requires a road closure and the pipe supplies a dentist which requires the work to take place at the weekend. We have also needed to prioritise bigger jobs.

‘This work did not qualify for an emergency road closure as this is a small leak rather than a burst main.

‘Around 30% of leaks occur on customer side pipes, and we work closely with customers to detect and repair leaks on the property – we’re currently doing more of this for free alongside discounted find and fix services for our business customers.

‘We have deployed the latest AI and satellite technology alongside increasing the numbers of leak detection colleagues, with over 140 leak detectors. We are finding and fixing up to 2,500 leaks a month.

‘As part of our plans for the future, we’re targeting another 15% reduction in leakage by 2025.

‘If customers spot a leak, we ask them to report it by visiting our website or calling South West Water’s free 24-hour leak helpline on 0800 230 0561.’