Consultation on Adoption of Private Supply Pipes

The recent Defra consultation on the future management of private water supply pipes closed on 4 July. The responses are now in and Defra has engaged the consultant Atkins to review these and help develop a full impact assessment of any potential change to the existing arrangements.

Should the Government decide to go ahead with a transfer of private water supply pipes (option 2 in consultation) to the water companies then an enabling clause could be added at a late stage to the current Water Bill going through Parliament.

There are many implications of transfer which are detailed in an independent responses from the Policy Consulting Network and Water UK - below is a summary:

1. Water company ownership would mean a more proactive maintenance and replacement programme than private owners carry out. This could lead to reductions in leakage(around 25% total leakage occurs on customers’ supply pipe). This could also provide real drinking water quality improvements through a proactive programme of lead pipe replacement and service improvements through replacement of shared supply pipes. It would also bring to an end customers’confusion about ownership and responsibility.

2. But would commercial and industrial customers want to seethe pipework on their sites transferred?

3. What about supply pipes that run beneath customers’properties? Access to repair or replace these is clearly difficult. Water companies would prefer to limit their ownership and responsibility up to the wall of the property. And what then happens if customers want to extend their property over the supply pipe?

4. Water companies would employ competent and approved contractors (such as the approved ‘ground workers’ recognised under WIAPS(Water Industry Approved Plumbers Scheme) to carry out repair and replacement work. This should in turn lead to a general upskilling of the workforce - providing benefits for individuals and the UK economy.  

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