A spate of burst water mains strains residents’ patience

Water is a service we take for granted, until it goes wrong. Lately, Oundle residents have complained that the water supply in town is becoming unreliable. The town’s supplier, Anglian Water, solves water issues when they erupt, but this process can be long and inconvenient for affected residents, not to mention the resulting damage to roads and pavements.

Over the last six months there have been six burst pipes affecting five different roads in Oundle: New Road, Hillfield Road, East Road, Glapthorn Road, St Peter’s Road and Nene Way. Anglian Water regularly reports problems on a “In Your Area” map on its website. Faults are reported as a “burst water main – interruption of supply – possible low pressure”, but there is no report of the cause or the nature of the repair. There is also no report about the number of issues that Anglian Water deals with in a geographic area or time span.

Anglian Water says that in most cases they are responsible for the large sewers running under roads and pavements and the drains above them. The sections of sewers and pipes shared between neighbours, plus pipes outside a property boundary connecting to their existing network, are also their responsibility.

Many residents question whether the systems in the older parts of town can cope with the increase of new housing developments, and whether the original pipes remain resilient enough. Repairs are piecemeal, rather than comprehensive.

Anglian Water told us that the spate of burst pipes is a coincidence. “There is no link between any burst water mains in the area. Bursts happen for a variety of reasons, including changes in temperature and slight ground movement.”

The spokesperson said that the burst pipe that sent water running down New Road was “due to a diversion that brought lots of HGV traffic onto the road”.

Charles Bryant
December 2021