North West Wales

Big rise in burst water pipes in Wales in cold weather

Frozen Towy in Carmarthen. Picture: the Reverend Leigh Richardson
Image caption The cold weather has been so deep and sustained that the Towy froze in Carmarthen. Picture: The Reverend Leigh Richardson

The cold weather has resulted in a huge rise in the number of burst pipes around Wales.

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water logged 5,000 calls on Boxing Day, compared with 50 on a typical busy day, and about 185 during the cold snap.

Peter Perry, operations director for Dŵr Cymru, said the business was at "full stretch" but coping.

He said there had been a fantastic response from staff during the "busiest time in living memory".

"Everybody is in, and we've been doubling up on our standby rosters," he said.

He said that, to put it into perspective, the company was currently putting in more of a supply of water than "we did if we took the very hottest days in June - even though that's a dim distant memory".

Mr Perry also made a plea for anyone who has an empty factory, shop or any premises to check in case of leaks.

"These can then be repaired or shut off as it puts a strain on our system," he said.

A number of pipes had been damaged because they were not properly protected, he said.

'Top tip'

"If you have anything in the roof, or anything in an unheated building the chance is that it's going to freeze or burst," he said.

The top tip was to make sure everything was lagged, he added.

"Another problem in some of the older valley houses - and you can sympathise with customers in this predicament - it that it's actually the metal pipes under the ground that are frozen.

"These are probably very old lead or galvanized pipes, laid many years ago, and quite frankly not laid deeply enough," he said.

Modern pipes had "fantastic thermal properties", he said and were laid about a metre deep, so that they did not freeze,

"Everything beyond the boundary stop tap, which is either in the footpath or the road outside the property, is the responsibility of the customer," he said.

Despite the prospect of relaying pipes being "a bit unrealistic" at this time, it was still worth doing everything possible.

This included leaving the loft hatch open for a couple of hours, as it makes "all the difference", he added.

One customer in Llandrindod Wells, Powys, said she was frustrated about the lack of information available.

"I'm checking the website but it has not been updated since this morning," said the woman, who did not wish to be named.

"It's fair enough that they are busy, and nobody is expecting them to fix faults immediately, but we'd like to know what is happening," she added.

The woman said she had shared what little water she had with her elderly neighbour, and wanted to know whether Dŵr Cymru was going to make water available.

"If I knew where to get water for him I'd go and get it for him, because his car is still covered in snow and he can't get it out," she added.

A spokeswoman for Dŵr Cymru said bottled water was only available to customers who had registered with the company as having special needs or requirements.

A water tanker would normally be sent out to areas without water, but the present exceptional circumstances were different, because so many different areas - all over Wales - were affected, she added.

A full list of affected areas can be found on Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water.

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