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Water companies feel the strain in July heatwave

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PIPE BURSTS are on the increase across the UK because of the extreme weather conditions, water companies told NCE this week.

Thames Water, Anglian Water Services, Welsh Water and Southern Water Services all reported increases in pipe bursts during July - some up by as much as a third. Ironically, periods of greatest demand on water supply have occurred at the same time as the greatest difficulty for its infrastructure.

Extreme heat is causing the ground to dry and crack putting more stress on the pipes carrying water, said former ICE Water Board chairman Graham Setterfield.

A spokesman for Thames Water said: 'It's fluctuations in temperature that cause the largest increase in bursts.' Days of baking heat dry and shrink the ground and then rapid cooling and rain cause it to swell, thereby increasing the amount of ground movement.

A spokesman for the Met Office said that the largest temperature fl uctuation over a 24hour period in July was 19 infinity C.

It occurred in the middle of the month in Suffolk, Wiltshire and Yorkshire.

Setterfi eld said that the older cast iron and ductile iron pipes account for the largest proportion of Britain's water lines.

However, they were not as flexible as the new plastic pipes being laid.

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