UK

Big rise in burst water pipes in Wales, Scotland and NI

The cold weather has resulted in a huge rise in the number of burst pipes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Water has said it is dealing with four times the normal level of calls from customers needing help with burst pipes.

Northern Ireland Water said the thaw had caused an unprecedented number of leaks.

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water logged 5,000 calls on Boxing Day, compared with 50 on a typical busy day.

Peter Perry, operations director for Dŵr Cymru, said the business was at "full stretch" but coping.

'Costing £7m a day'

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said burst pipes were costing £7m a day.

Insurers paid out £644m to homeowners and firms last winter due to burst pipes.

Water companies are pleading for factory owners, shopkeepers and landlords to check on empty premises for leaks.

Dŵr Cymru's Mr Perry said: "These can then be repaired or shut off as it puts a strain on our system."

A number of pipes had been damaged because they were not properly protected, he said.

"If you have anything in the roof, or anything in an unheated building, the chance is that it's going to freeze or burst," he said.

A spokeswoman for Dŵr Cymru said bottled water was only available to customers who had registered with the company as having special needs or requirements.

A water tanker would normally be sent out to areas without water, but the present exceptional circumstances were different, because so many different areas - all over Wales - were affected, she added.

A full list of affected areas can be found on Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water.

In Northern Ireland the worst hit areas are Belfast, Armagh and Coleraine.

Belfast City Council has opened three leisure centres to distribute drinking water, and free showers will be available on Wednesday.

Some streets in Belfast have been without water for six days.

"After six days, it's starting to be a public health issue when you can't even flush the toilet," said one Belfast resident, Tiago Menezes.

Scottish Water's customer service delivery director Peter Farrer said staff were working "flat out" to help restore water supplies which have been lost when mains pipes burst.

He said the company had drafted in extra resources to deal with the impact of the cold snap on the water network.

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