Water supply discoloured?

Since Wednesday a few dozen residents from Coopersale, Epping and Theydon Bois have reported discoloured water coming out of their taps.

Glass of Water

This seems to be related to mains cleaning work that Affinity Water is carrying out on their distribution network. The discoloured water problem is related to manganese deposits in the water distribution system which have been disturbed by on-going mains cleaning works.

The company now thinks it has mitigated much of the problem but in some areas there are still small pockets of discoloured water. Affinity Water will continue to carry out “passive flushing” of the mains in the affected areas.

Epping Forest District Council’s water quality officer advises that the water is not unsafe to use. However residents have been advised by Affinity Water to flush all affected taps/pipework, where discolouration is evident.

Concerned residents should contact Affinity Water if they need further advice or information. The phone number is 0845 782 3333.

Hosepipe ban lifted this week

The hosepipe ban in our area came to an end on Monday. So if your garden needs watering (ha! ha!) life just got easier. This is the message I received from Veolia (what used to be Three Valleys Water) explaining the decision.

Dear Councillor

I am writing to inform you that Veolia Water Central is lifting its temporary use ban, with effect from today, Monday 9 July. This means that customers can use hosepipes from this date.

The ban was introduced on 5 April, following two consecutive autumn and winter periods of below average rainfall, which left much of the South East of England in drought conditions.

The temporary use ban has helped to reduce demand and conserve our water resources and we would like to thank our customers for their incredible support and we apologise for inconvenience caused by the ban.

The unprecedented rainfall since April has lead to a significant improvement in our water resources, which have now recovered sufficiently to allow us to lift the ban, without putting strain on the local environment.

Veolia Water Central takes most of its water from natural underground chalk reservoirs, called aquifers, which take longer to respond to rainfall, as the water has to permeate through soil and rocks, which has taken some weeks.

Although the exceptional levels of recent rainfall have resulted in an unusually high top up of groundwater for this time of year, the critical period for recharging our aquifers is between October and March, when less rainfall is lost to plant growth, evaporation and run off to rivers.

It must be stressed that groundwater levels still remain lower than normal, so we are asking our customers to continue to use water wisely. We will need prolonged and substantial rainfall, particularly during the next autumn and winter period, to restore our groundwater to normal levels. A third dry autumn and winter would make a hosepipe ban next year a possibility.

The ban, together with the significant rainfall since April, has resulted in a reduction in demand of about 7%. Veolia Water Central has also reduced leakage by over 20 million litres per day below our regulator agreed leakage reduction target for this year.

Veolia Water’s website contains advice and tips on saving water and using water more efficiently, together with free and discounted water saving devices at: www.veoliawater.co.uk/drought.

In addition to Veolia Water Central, Veolia Water Southeast, South East Water and Sutton and East Surrey Water are also announcing the lifting of restrictions from today.

The message about groundwater levels remaining lower than usual is a reminder that we live (normally) in one of the driest regions in Britain and that future plans for building in our area must take account of our water resources.