Engineers fit huge section of pipe during Victorian water main repairs
The 5.5 metre-long piece of ductile iron pipe was installed after the original 42-inch cast iron main, which is more than 100 years old, burst on October 6.
It caused water outages to areas of East London, with teams from the company working through the night to find and stop the leaking pipe, located in an area of dense woodland in the busy London borough.
Once supplies were restored, specialists then had to pump away floodwater and dig almost two metres down into the ground to access the broken pipe, all while ensuring that customers’ taps kept running.
With the section of pipe temporarily out of service, Thames Water used the opportunity to identify and start repairs on five additional parts of the pipe, which will reduce the risk of further disruptive bursts in the future.
Mick Clarke, Thames Water’s infrastructure programme manager, said: “While the repair itself was a fairly straight-forward task for our expert engineers and repair teams, it’s been one of the more complex to plan. We had to take a key strategic main out of service for several weeks to allow a safe repair, while balancing returning the water supply to thousands of customers.
“Having achieved that, we’ve now taken the opportunity to carry out proactive repairs in five additional locations across the 3km of pipe to strengthen the network for the future.”
After the burst was discovered, Thames Water shut off the broken section of the pipe, re-routing the water supply around the network to get the taps back on for customers as quickly as possible.
Water returned to many homes just after midnight, with several tankers used to pump away the excess water to allow safe access to the burst site.
Repair teams were able to start working on fixing the pipe on Friday, October 10, spending more than a day digging down into the difficult terrain to expose the damaged section, which had to be cut out and replaced with the new section of pipe.
As the existing pipe was slightly oval in shape, specialist fittings also had to be manufactured to ensure the new section fit with a watertight seal.
The additional repairs are due to be completed early next month, when the pipe will be brought back into service.
Hackney has 68km of trunk mains, most of which are from the Victorian era. The borough has the highest proportion of mains replaced by Thames Water, with 56% having been upgraded since 2000.
The company also carries out more than 1,000 valve checks a year and has installed 9,000 smart meters in Hackney since 2015, with almost 5,000 more due in the next five years.