Repair should be one integrated job, not patched up piecemeal

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Last year, the Hebden Bridge Times reported on the huge leak on our property from the water ring main which serves Nest Estate (March, 2012). There have been a number of leaks around the estate before and since; closing off the water supply to fix leaks has become a common occurrence.

The most recent leak was only repaired a few days ago; there is another, slower, long-ongoing leak which has yet to receive attention.

Recently I awoke to find another geyser of water bubbling out of the ground. This time, Yorkshire Water did arrange a sub-contractor to attend and stop the leak on the same day - last year, it took six days of water pouring out and down the road before the company accepted their responsibility to repair the leak.

According to the sub-contractors, the problem is that the whole ring-main is corroded and rotting. They have stated that the only long-term solution to the problem is to replace the whole ring-main with new piping.

Yorkshire Water’s answer to this is that each and every property owner is individually liable to maintain, repair or replace the section of pipe running under their own property.

Around half of these properties, on what was once a council estate, are now privately owned and the other half are owned by Pennine Housing.

Logically, you would think that the obvious authority to take overall responsibility for maintaining a safe and efficient water supply would be Yorkshire Water.

Once, it would have been the council, but the council escaped this responsibility when the council houses were sold, in some cases being taken over by the housing association, and others, by individual, private owners.

However, if there is indeed a fiscal liability on each house owner for the section of pipe which runs through their property, you might imagine that the sensible thing to do would be for Yorkshire Water to organise the replacement of the whole system, because it IS one system, and the company supplies the product, and uses the pipe system to supply the product. But no.

Apparently there have been discussions between Yorkshire Water and Pennine Housing about the problem, and such negotiations have been ongoing for some time, but no agreement has been reached. We understand that the water company has the power to sort the whole problem out, and then to require the individual owners to make financial restitution towards the cost.

Does it really need stating that the desperately needed replacement of the water supply pipes should be carried out as one integrated job and not piecemeal, patching up leaks again and again?

Surely, a utility that is clearly an essential utility, a natural public monopoly if you like, should be regarded and managed as an integrated whole? And is that not so, more than with any other utility, with water supply?

We would like to see the authorities take this on board, and work towards a sensible solution to the problem.

We are hoping that our local councillors and MP will take up the case, and do the job they were elected for: to look after the interests and needs of the voters. We would not have thought this is too much to ask.

Michael Piggott and Jean Williams,

Mytholmroyd.