Families urged to save water as burst pipes put supplies under pressure
PEOPLE are being asked to ration their water following the loss of tens of millions of gallons because of burst pipes.
Yorkshire Water is urging people not to waste water with unnecessary baths and showers, with the company losing around 30 million litres of water a day – around the same as 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
GUIDELINES ISSUED: People are being urged to use water wisely.
The loss amounts to 2.5 per cent of the water that is used in Yorkshire on a daily basis.
Pipes have been damaged by the big freeze but the problem has only arisen with the warmer weather causing the ice to thaw.
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While temperatures fell to well below freezing a week ago, the region is now experiencing temperatures of up to 7 or 8C.
Residents of Hull and the East Riding are being asked to carefully consider how often they use dishwashers and washing machines, as the company battles an unprecedented number of burst pipes.
Any surge in water use could result in a shortage.
The company's manager of community engagement, Richard Sears, said: "We're working really hard to fix these bursts as soon as possible and it's very challenging.
"The sheer volume of water being lost through bursts means that it is proving difficult to maintain pressure in the water supply system.
"The less water people use, particularly at teatime and at breakfast, the quicker the system will recharge and things will return to normal for everyone.
"So if customers could use water wisely for the next few days, this would greatly assist the recovery effort."
But he is also asking people not to panic.
He insists there will be no repeat of what has happened in Northern Ireland – where thousands of residents have been left without any water for almost two weeks, resulting in people queuing up to replenish bottles of water at filling points.
He said: "The water supply is under considerable pressure at the moment, but we are not in the realms of what has happened in Northern Ireland.
"There are signs of recovery and it is important people do not panic and start storing baths of water.
"We have more people than ever before out finding and fixing leaks.
"We have fixed 400 leaks in just three days."
Hull and the East Riding's local authorities have also been urged to check schools and other public buildings for potential flooding.
In North Yorkshire, 80 schools were found to have leaking pipes.
Landlords and neighbours are also being urged to check properties which have lain empty over the festive period to check for any leaks.
Mr Sears said: "We have already sat down with the local authorities and told them to check all the public buildings and schools for any leaks.
"We are also asking landlords and neighbours to report any leaks they see in empty properties. The damage they can cause could be huge.
"We suspect that there are lots of leaks hidden behind closed doors as businesses have shut for the Christmas period, or homeowners have gone off to visit relatives.
"We would urge people to check on their neighbours' properties if they know they're away to see if there are signs of a leak.
"If there are, they should contact the owners or Yorkshire Water, who will come out and turn the water off.
"While we are losing 30 million litres a day, it will be considerably more in the pipes of private properties."
Yorkshire Water has also seen a massive rise in calls, jumping from 1,000 a day to 10,000.
There has also been a widespread operation to get bottled water to the homes of vulnerable people who have lost their water supply through leaks or frozen pipes.
But Mr Sears has warned that, with such demand, Yorkshire Water is having to prioritise jobs.
He said: "We sympathise with all those customers affected by the recent cold weather.
"While a lot of the problems experienced by people were as a result of problems on their own pipework, we have tried wherever possible to give them helpful advice and support."
Katherine Gardiner has had to spend much of the festive season in a bed and breakfast due to burst pipes.
Miss Gardiner, 23, of north Hull, said: "I came back a few days ago to find water ankle-deep in my home.
"The ceiling in the kitchen is falling down and I can't get in to cook or wash my clothes.
"It has been an absolute nightmare.
"Unfortunately, my boiler isn't working properly so the pipes froze and then burst."
People can report leaks by calling on 0800 1 24 24 24.