THAMES WATER should address its 'lamentable' leakage control record before being permitted to build a £200M desalination plant on the Thames Estuary, a water industry expert has insisted.
'Thames Water's past performance on leakage control has been lamentable, ' said Jo Parker.
'It has failed to meet the OFWAT targets every year since 1999. Even when OFWAT allowed Thames a massive 55% increase, it still failed to meet the target.'
Parker is acting as expert witness for London mayor Ken Livingstone, who blocked Thames' planning application for the 140Ml/day desalination plant.
Thames has appealed the decision, and the application is now going through a public inquiry (News last week).
Until recently, Parker was responsible for leakage management at Three Valleys Water, covering part of North London and the Home Counties.
The company managed to reduce leakage rates to half that of Thames, despite similar pressures on the network.
The difference between them was in their asset management strategies, she insisted.
If Thames was operating to industry best standards, it should be nding and xing 10% more leaks each year, she said.
According to Parker, Thames has been slow to adopt leak detection technology that has been industry standard for over a decade.
Furthermore, the company takes three times longer to repair reported leaks than the national standard, even though London borough trafc engineers say they want to help reduce lead times.
Dividing the network into small areas makes leakage monitoring far easier. But Thames' monitoring areas are three times larger than adjacent companies'.
Thames argues that its circumstances are unique.
Its cast iron mains infrastructure is up to 150 years old, and aggressive ground conditions mean corrosion has been acute.
Shrinkage and heave of London clay, seasonal water temperature variation and ground movement caused by heavy trafc result in high fracture rates.