The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is pointing fingers at Thames Water after 3 London floods. Burst pipes have caused 3 floods in London in a week. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes and businesses in Stoke Newington, Blackheath, and Islington areas. The Mayor says people are furious as lessons are not being learned. Thames Water is launching a full investigation into the floods and try to reduce further disruption. The timing could not be worse for all affected in the run up to the Christmas season. The public and businesses should expect full compensation.
To give you an idea what the City of London and Thames Water faces there are 10,000 miles of pipes in London…1700 miles of Victorian Era pipes have been replaced. The Thames Water company profited 742 million pounds in 15/16, has 15 million customers, and invests 1 billion annually in upgrading the network…but still can’t keep up.
Some of the local business owners accuse Thames Water of incompetence, as the water mains outside his shop were leaking in the week leading up to the flood , yet all the company did was apply a band aid, patching up but not fixing the situation in a permanent way. When the pipe burst outside one shop it took 4-5 hours for crews to stop the flooding waters.
Thames Water does recognize the seriousness of the situation. Permits to close the road at Stoke Newington had been applied for. At Blackheath it did take hours to turn the water off due to the need to not disrupt water service to other businesses.
Although this story comes out of London, here in Ottawa we have seen our own watermain issues in the last few years. In this particular story the detail of having replaced Victorian Era pipes is amazing…given Queen Victoria was born in 1819. As our populations grow and our cities age I am sure we will see more not less of these problems…replacing old pipes is a huge cost. One that city councils probably won’t address in full until it is too late and the water is in the streets.