SOUTHERN Water has been criticized for imposing a watering ban on its customers despite figures showing it has lost millions of liters of water to leaks.
GMB Union said a total of five water companies lost more than 460 billion liters of water in 2020/2021.
Southern Water alone recorded a loss of 98.5 megalitres, which is equivalent to 39 Olympic swimming pools or 1.2m baths.
The union said it had long campaigned for water companies to return to public hands.
GMB National Secretary Andy Prendergast said: ‘It’s a shame customers are facing a £1,000 fine [for using a hosepipe] while water-deprived big cats carry millions, while failing to tackle leaks enough and refusing to invest in manpower.
“The privatization of water has been a disastrous failed experiment – it’s time to put this essential natural resource back into public hands.”
Responding to the claims, a spokesperson for Southern Water told A&T, “Tackling leaks is a priority for us – we can’t tell our customers not to use garden hoses if we don’t. not our part.
“Last year we repaired 22,000 leaks, and in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, where we have a garden hose ban in place, we’re fixing 250 a week. Crucially, we’ve installed 7 000 acoustic loggers on our network that detect and locate leaks, and 100 of Hampshire’s repairs come from this data.”
The spokesperson added: “These leaks are often found on trunk lines buried deep underground and are invisible on the surface, but can lose significantly more water than visible leaks from communication pipes near the surface. In the Southampton area where the technology was first deployed it has reduced leakage to less than 10%.”
The company has also apologized after a pump station in Commercial Road, Totton, was submerged earlier this week due to rain which led to a sewage spill.
The spokesperson added: “We discovered that due to intense rain on dry ground, the site was experiencing technical difficulties.
“This led to a spill which affected a car park and nearby roads. Specialist teams were sent to investigate and began a clean-up.
“We would like to apologize to nearby residents, businesses and road users for this incident and are working hard to establish all the circumstances to prevent it from happening again.”