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Welsh Water

Water company urges homeowners to prepare for winter and protect against frozen and burst pipes

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Welsh Water is urging its customers to act now and prepare their homes for winter, to protect against frozen and burst pipes as temperatures continue to drop.

Research from polling company YouGov found that nearly a quarter of people in Wales had experienced frozen pipes in their home before, while 16% had experienced a burst pipe – which can cost thousands of pounds worth of damage.

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It also found that nearly 40% of people didn’t know how to lag exposed pipes – which are most susceptible to freezing – and a total of 63% had never attempted this before.

When temperatures drop, the water in your pipes and taps can freeze. Frozen water expands and can crack even in the strongest metal pipe. You may not notice this immediately, and only know you have a problem when the cracked pipe thaws and water starts leaking from it.

Pipes and taps that are outdoors or in cold places like a loft or garage, are more susceptible to freezing and bursting and can leave homes and businesses with no water, no heating, or a costly flood.

To prevent freezing pipes, Welsh Water is encouraging customers act now and wrap their pipes with a lagging kit. Welsh Water is offering a limited number of free lagging kits to customers to protect exposed pipes and outdoor taps.

Lucy, Welsh Water customer and mum of two from Cardiff told us: “Last winter during the February freeze, our boiler broke down for three days leaving us without heating and hot water while I was heavily pregnant and looking after my toddler. We called a plumber out, who said there was nothing he could do because our pipes had frozen due to the cold weather and that we’d have to wait for the ice to thaw before the boiler would be able to work again. I’d urge anyone to prepare their home and wrap their pipes with a lagging kit. Luckily our boiler was working well after the ice obstruction was removed, but I’ll be more careful this winter.”

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Latest figures from Go Compare, the insurance comparison site, reveal that between January and August 2021, of the people who ran a home insurance quote via GoCompare and declared they had a claim, 25% of those claims were for escape of water.

Ian Christie, Welsh Water’s Managing Director of Water Services, said: “As a company, we have been doing all we can to prepare for the colder months including briefing staff for cold weather precautions, preparing our 4×4 fleets for extreme weather conditions, loading our tankers in case of an emergency and making our customers aware of how they can help us keep the water flowing too.

“It’s important that our customers are prepared for the winter months so that they can avoid costly bursts and leaks and so that we can manage pressures across the network.

“That is why we’re asking people to check that their home or business is wrapped up and ready for winter by getting any outdoor pipes or taps lagged with a kit. It could help prevent a tremendous amount of inconvenience and expense – at the time of the year when you’d least want to face it. We’re offering several lagging kits to customers to help them prepare, by wrapping their pipes before it gets too cold.

“Our teams will be working 24/7 to keep things flowing, but we also need a little help from our customers, by making sure their homes and businesses are ready for winter.”

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When a problem occurs on pipes in homes, it is the responsibility of the homeowner or landlord and so it’s important that people prepare their homes so that they are ready for the cold winter months. The advice is also relevant to any type of property, such as holiday homes, caravans, schools or factories, which might be left empty for a period of time over the winter.

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Environment

Call for ban on water company bosses’ bonuses until sewage discharge ends

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Liberal Democrat Senedd Member for Mid and West Wales, Jane Dodds has called for a ban on Welsh Water bosses’ bonus payments after it was revealed that they were awarded £931,000 in bonuses while pumping raw sewage into Welsh waterways 100,000 times last year.

Ms Dodds is calling for a “sewage bonus ban” to ban future bonuses until sewage dumps stop.

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The bosses of Severn Trent, which covers parts of mid and north Wales also awarded themselves bonuses of £5.56 million.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats say that their analysis of Company House data shows that executives at Dŵr Cymru were paid £2.6 million in 2020 and 2021 including £931,000 in bonuses, benefits and incentives.

The eye-watering executive pay packets and company profits were made despite the 100,000 sewage dumping events taking place in 2020 and 2021 alone.

The Lib Dems are calling on the Labour-run Welsh Government to ban new bonuses for Dŵr Cymru executives until sewage offences are brought to an end. The party is also calling on Dŵr Cymru and Severn Trent bosses to hand back last year’s bonuses and for the funds to be used to clean up rivers and lakes that have been polluted by sewage.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Senedd Member Jane Dodds said Water companies are being allowed “to pump raw sewage into our precious rivers and lakes while awarding themselves obscene bonuses.”

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Ms Dodds said: “I’ve watched first-hand as my local river, the River Wye struggles to survive. It has been given just two years until it is declared biologically dead. We cannot put off action any longer.

“Welsh Liberal Democrat plans for a sewage bonus ban would stop water company execs being paid a penny in bonuses more until our waterways are protected from sewage dumps. These bosses should be made to hand back the millions of pounds already received in bonuses to help clean up their mess.

“It’s time to send a message to the Welsh Labour Government that they cannot let water company bosses get away with pumping raw sewage into our rivers and beaches any longer. Every vote for the Welsh Liberal Democrats in May is a vote for a strong local champion who will stand up for their local community, clean rivers and countryside.”

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Welsh Water

Welsh Water makes its way to Ukraine

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Welsh Water say they are providing 55,200 litres of bottled water to war-torn Ukraine.

The not-for-profit water company say that in the World Health Organisation declared “humanitarian crisis” in Ukraine, many citizens are living without access to food, drinking water and essential supplies.

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Welsh Water is sending 55,200 litres of bottled water to the country.

Access to water and sanitation are recognised by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basics in every person’s life, yet as the conflict continues to worsen, more detail is emerging about the crisis with reports of citizens melting snow to drink.

There have been requests from the Ukrainian government for donations of bottled water for drinking and personal hygiene purposes.

Pete Perry, Chief Executive of Welsh Water said: “The fact that so many people are without drinking water in Ukraine reflects the desperation of the situation.

“As a company, we will build on the support we already provide vulnerable people across the world, through our nominated charity WaterAid, by working with other water companies to provide some essential drinking water supplies to people in Ukraine.”

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(Lead image: Welsh Water)

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Coronavirus

Testing for COVID in wastewater to expand Wales-wide

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A programme to test wastewater for COVID-19 has been expanded to cover all Welsh health boards and local authorities across 48 sites.

The Welsh Government, who are leading on the programme, said it provides vital data on the prevalence of coronavirus in the community and was key to the early detection of the Omicron wave across Wales.

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The process of identifying coronavirus in wastewater was initially developed by scientists from Bangor University who have been working in partnership with the Welsh Government, Cardiff University, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and Hafren Dyfrdwy. The initial concept and processes are now used in work being undertaken across the UK.

All 48 sites in Wales now have automated monitoring equipment installed to provide wastewater samples which scientists can test to give insights into the virus.

Health and Social Services Minister Eluned Morgan said: “The wastewater data has helped us to understand how the pandemic has changed and allowed us to follow the Omicron wave though our communities.

“With the help of the scientists and water companies in Wales, we have increased the monitoring sites from 19 to 48 and introduced automatic sampling equipment providing even more detailed insights into wastewater testing compared with the methods we originally adopted.”

Chief Scientific Adviser for Health Rob Orford said: “Wastewater monitoring has the potential to be representative of the true levels of COVID-19 in our communities, as it is less affected by changes to community testing policy and whether or not people get tested.

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“We are keen to continue to explore how wastewater can play an important part of our future testing strategy as we begin to move from pandemic to endemic.

“Wastewater also has some exciting potential beyond COVID-19 and could be used to monitor the levels of many other viruses like influenza and anti-microbial resistance.”

Professor David Jones from Bangor University’s School of Natural Sciences, who co-leads the development of the testing technology, said: “COVID-19 has been a huge learning curve for virology, and our wastewater testing has been able to identify new variants of the virus in almost real-time, so we welcome its expansion across Wales.

“We know that the faster the data can be produced, the better informed public health officials can be in making important decisions about the measures needed.”

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