Aluminum air pipes

“The water company puts profits before pipes”

Workmen fixing the last water leak in Offord Road

“WHEN is this going to end?” It was the cry of sickness from residents of a flooded street where the water was cut again this week and massive trucks arrived to dig their way.

Water started rising from the ground in Offord Road on Tuesday morning – a scene of deja vu for people who live there, as it is the third time in four years that their road has been submerged. A massive sewer also required three months of work during this period.

This week, after a three-metre crack opened up in the road, thousands of gallons of water leaked out and the supply was cut off to homes in Barnsbury.

Arabella Buckworth, who has lived on the streets since 1987, said the entire pipeline – which is around 170 years old – should be proactively dug up and replaced, rather than waiting for the next “blowout”.

Last year Thames Water made a profit of just under £500m.

Ms Buckworth said: ‘It’s sickening and it’s about robbing the poor to pay the rich because they’re not really doing the job.

When the utility was privatized in 1989, Margaret Thatcher’s government claimed the sale would generate funds to tackle major infrastructure works.

But only now is the water company planning to overhaul the leak-prone cast-iron pipes by replacing them with plastic ones.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called it a “late start to renewing the aging system that all Londoners rely on”.

Ms Buckworth added: ‘I think those Victorian pipes just said ‘ok we’re dead now’ and they’re left on the road – they need to be redone. All of London needs to be redone – they’ve got the money for that.

Offord Road is submerged… again

In a previous leak, there was so much pressure that the water rose higher than a four-story building.

“It was terribly dangerous, so dangerous,” Ms Buckworth added.

“The size of the stones – some were the size of a human head flying through the air like a geyser, and these stones were rolling down the hill.

“You don’t know if your kids are playing on that side of the road when one of them goes boom.”

Sarah Reardon, who co-founded the Offord Road Green Alliance two months ago, said she believed that while old pipework was a contributing factor to the near-annual gusts, she also blamed the ‘worrying’ volume of traffic heavy that goes down their road each day.

She said: “We know London is built on waterways and we need to be really responsible for maintaining them in a way that will be safe for London and future generations to come.”

But she added: “This is a serious cause for concern and we have to stop and ask ourselves why this is happening: is this the age of the water networks? Is it the use of the road and the effect of heavy traffic and heavy goods vehicles?

“I think that’s what the residents don’t really understand. What is causing such pressure on the water system under Barnsbury? »

Neighbors say Offord Road is one of the only roads in the borough, which has left it with up to 14,000 vehicles crossing each day.

According to Reardon, data tallies show a 20% increase in traffic every two years. In 2011, the last traffic count indicated that nearly 12,000 vehicles were using the road.

“I think what we need is good citizen consultation and a fairer approach to traffic in the borough. It’s not fair that Offord Road paid the price,” she added.

She also said she was appalled at the “gallons and gallons and gallons” of water lost in the leaks on her street alone.

Council leader Labor councilor Kaya Comer-Schwartz and unions have backed the nationalization of the water supply – although it affects party leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said this week that a new government Labor would not push to nationalize water or energy companies.

Cllr Comer-Schwartz said: ‘There are issues with Thames Water across the borough. I think public ownership brings greater accountability and we see that in the public services we provide to the council.

“If your motivation is the profit of your shareholders – which is a different motivation from the provision of local services – [then] it’s whether they reinvest their profits.

“If it’s a circular economy, if your model is to provide services, then the money goes back into the public service.”

A Thames Water spokesman said: “We are very sorry for what happened. [in Offord Road] and our priority is to support people whose homes have been flooded. Our insurance team has been going door to door to assess the damage and needs of each resident and we will do everything we can to get their lives back on track as soon as possible.

On boosting infrastructure, they added: ‘London’s Victorian water system is set to undergo a major overhaul to increase water resilience with a £300 million contribution. pounds sterling from the owners of Thames Water.

“The unprecedented investment matches the £300 million already included in the company’s spending plans for the 2020-2025 investment period.

“It will improve service by speeding up work to reduce leaks and bursts, which will increase the resilience of the capital’s pipe network to the impacts of climate change and help secure water supplies for future generations.”