Cheap plastic sewer pipes a hazard, regulator warned

The new water regulator, Philip Fletcher, has been urged to intervene to stop the use of low-grade plastic sewer pipes amid claims that they represent a public health hazard and could leave consumers with a £600m repair bill.

The new water regulator, Philip Fletcher, has been urged to intervene to stop the use of low-grade plastic sewer pipes amid claims that they represent a public health hazard and could leave consumers with a £600m repair bill.

Hepworth, one of the country's leading pipe manufacturers, warned yesterday that use of the low-grade pipes could result in "sewer chaos" unless new curbs were introduced.

The company claimed that confidential water industry tests had shown that rats can easily gnaw their way through the pipes. Jetting machines used by water companies to clear sewer blockages have also been shown to damage the plastic pipes.

Traditionally, sewer pipes have been made out of clay or much more durable alternatives, but there is nothing to stop contractors using cheaper plastic pipes.

Hepworth said that Mr Fletcher, appointed head of Ofwat at the beginning of this month, should intervene to end the water industry's self-regulation of pipe standards.

Three water companies - Thames, Southern and Anglian - have banned the use of the so-called "structured wall" plastic sewer pipes. But at a meeting of water industry technical experts last week a decision was taken to sanction the continued use of the pipes.

There are an estimated 1,000 kilometres of the plastic pipe in use at present, and new pipe is being laid at a rate of 150 kilometres a year. Over 20 years the repair bill could reach £600m.

Although the pipes are installed by housing developers, water companies ultimately assume responsibility for them once they become part of the network, exposing customers to the repair costs.

Ray Doughty, technical director of Hepworth Building Products, said: "Sadly, there are no safeguards in place to prevent water companies from allowing contractors to put price before quality when selecting and installing new sewer pipes. Ofwat needs to put a proper framework in place to ensure that all the companies put quality and environmental considerations ahead of price when planning their sewer network programmes."

Mr Doughty said it was an abrogation of responsibility to to give developers carte blanche to install unsuitable pipes knowing that others would have to pick up the bill in years to come.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men