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SES Water successfully prosecutes water thieves


SES Water has successfully prosecuted Lanes for Drains Limited for illegally taking water from a fire hydrant through the unauthorised use of a standpipe, pursuant to Section 174 of the Water Industry Act 1991.

The company, based in Leeds, pleaded guilty to the offence, which took place in Wallington in February 2020, and was ordered to pay £9,281.70 in fines and legal costs by Croydon Magistrates’ Court.

Accessing a water hydrant without authorisation can cause serious incidents of discolouration. In this instance, the water supplied to over 600 customers in the affected area appeared cloudy as the pipe network was disturbed, unsettling chalk particles. Although not harmful to health, the water was not of the usual high standard rightly expected by customers. Illegally operating a hydrant can also damage it, rendering it inoperable by both the water supplier and emergency services.

Tom Kelly, Wholesale Director at SES Water, said: “Responsible companies obtain an authorised standpipe to connect to our network and can be trained to use the equipment correctly and safely. When companies ignore this and illegally connect to the water supply network, they are not only avoiding payment but also potentially creating problems with the pressure and quality of water supplied to our customers. Providing a safe and reliable water supply to all of our customers is our number one priority and we work hard every day to make this happen. We take it very seriously when the actions of others impact our ability to do this, so we are very pleased with today’s outcome and hope it discourages others from acting so irresponsibly in the future.”

SES Water will be donating the monies received to the Wallington Community Wellbeing Charity so the local people affected by the offence will enjoy some benefit, at a time when a focus on mental health is so important.

Christine Lindsay from the charity said: “We are enormously grateful to SES Water for this generous donation. As a small, local charity every penny will be used to help relieve loneliness and isolation in older people and those with disabilities in our area. With the current Covid-19 restrictions, people are far more isolated than ever before and this is affecting their mental health and wellbeing so this gesture is very welcome. Thank you SES!” 

Tom Kelly added: “Whilst our network inspectors remain vigilant when they’re out and about, we would also ask the general public to also keep a watch out for third parties using hydrants and report anything suspicious directly to us by contacting our 24/7 Control Room as it could be their water supply that’s being affected by the illegal usage.”