Milder weather is forecast for East Anglia and the water company is expecting the warmer conditions to cause an increase in leaks and bursts as the sudden dramatic shift in temperature impacts on water networks, pipes, and plumbing.
Over the last few days, the region has seen extreme cold conditions, with temperatures plummeting to sub-zero and warnings in place for snow, ice, and freezing fog.
However, with the deep freeze predicted to lift this weekend, and temperatures set to reach 12 degrees in some places early next week, the huge swing in extreme weather could impact on water pipes.
During cold weather, water pipes can burst when temperatures reach minus figures because the water inside of them freezes and expands, but it’s often the thawing of the pipes that can be the biggest problem.
The change from cold to warm causes the pipes to expand, contract and move. Together with freezing and contracting ground movements, the pipes can then leak, crack or burst.
While these shifts in temperature occur every winter, and the water company is experienced in managing the issue successfully, the quick shift in extreme temperatures expected over the coming days is expected to make the impact bigger than normal and increase the number of leaks and bursts.
To prepare, Essex & Suffolk Water is putting all its operational teams on high alert over the weekend and in the run up to Christmas.
Teams of leak technicians are working around the clock finding and repairing leaks as quickly as possible. Network operators are basing themselves at key reservoirs and pumping stations to maximise water resources and monitoring the networks 24/7.
Extra people have been brought into the customer and support teams preparing to deal with the increase in reports of bursts and leaks and ensure customers get any support they need.
Richard Warneford, Operations Director for Essex & Suffolk Water, said: “We’re planning ahead and being prepared for the rising temperatures forecast for this weekend, because we know the kind of impact that this can have on our own water network, and our customers’ pipework.
“Our teams work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and we’ll be here all throughout the Christmas and New Year period to ensure our customers’ water keeps flowing, whatever happens with the weather.
“This means monitoring our networks closely, moving water around the network if bursts do occur, and generally being ready to respond.
“However, we would ask that our customers keep an eye on their pipes, report any leaks to us and let us know about any interruptions to their supply.
“Our call centres are going to be really busy so we would ask people use our website to report leaks and only call us in an emergency.”
To let Essex & Suffolk Water know about any leaks or bursts, customers can report them online at www.eswater.co.uk/leaks
The water company is also encouraging customers to use water wisely by checking out the water saving tips on the website.