Stopping water from running away at China Walk

9 May, 2017

Written by: Communications team

Better homes > Waterloo area

Thames Water test mains supply – and warns landlords like Lambeth Council if the water being lost overnight (when people aren’t using it) indicates a leak to fix.

Lambeth’s technical services team took quick action to repair an invisible underground leak. Repairs have now stopped hundreds of thousands of litres of water disappearing from residents’ homes.

Monitoring the meters

Thames Water have recently started fitting water meters on the mains supply to some Lambeth estates, and running tests overnight on how much water passes through the meter minute by minute. In one week in February, the mains supply at Copeland House on China Walk Estate was leaking 81 litres a minute.

Water running away

81 litres a minute quickly adds up to 116,000 litres of water lost a night.  That’s close to:

  • 204,225 pints of beer
  • 9 x Double Decker Buses pumped full of water
  • The recommended amount of drinking water for 72 500 women to stay hydrated for a day
  • a swimming pool 9.8 metres long, 4.9 metres wide and 2 metres deep being completely drained overnight, every night
  • someone flushing a toilet 8,529 times in the same night

Clearly, this was a sign of a bad leak caused by damaged pipework.

Sounding out the leak

Technicians from Thames Water’s  water conservation specialist partners Hydrocura alerted Lambeth’s water quality team that they’d investigated the pipe. They tested with microphones, listening sticks and other noise-measurements to track down where the loudest sound of running water pinpointed the leak, and supplied Lambeth with a map to the most effective repair.

More disappearing water

Before getting the pipe repaired at Copeland House, we asked our contractor partners OCO to investigate possible leaks at Minton and Derby House on the same estate. Investigations included a water riser in the old electrical intake cupboards. Although the leak was nothing like as serious as the first one found, technicians identified from 40- to 50,000 litres going missing from the daily mains supply.

Fixing a hole

We wrote to residents warning them they could be without water for a few hours while the repairs were done – the whole repair was completed in less than 2 weeks. Hydrocura reported in April that leakage records at Minton and Derby Houses was now 80% better and the works at Copeland House have resolved all the leakage of the main supply pipes, meaning a regular supply and reliable water pressure for residents.


Lambeth Council’s capital team have a programme of water, electrical, and heating upgrades to homes in Lambeth as part of Lambeth Housing Standard (LHS) works for 2017/18. Please see programme details online for North, Central & South Areas. You can also email the Technical Team for details of 2016-17 and 2017-18 programmes.

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