Irresponsible behaviour

Having had no rain in days, the garden lawn was looking a bit brown, so last week I decided to get out the old hosepipe and provide my grass with some much needed refreshment.

I must say, I didn’t spend all that long out there. The truth of the matter is that I felt a bit guilty splashing a lot of clean water onto the ground, knowing only too well the time and money that goes into purifying the stuff to make it fit enough to drink.

While I was out there doing my gardening chore, it appeared that the pressure of the water supply wasn’t quite as high as it usually is, which I put down to the fact that the local utility had lowered it due to the lack of water in the area.

Later that day, on my way to the local Shop and Save to pick up some groceries, I discovered the real reason for the drop in water pressure – it seemed that a main had burst further up the road and water was gushing into the road.

Being a responsible sort of chap, I phoned the water company to inform them of the problem. While they were pleased to receive my call, the pleasant young woman at the end of the phone explained that the leak had already been reported and that a team from the water company would be out to fix it within a minimum of two days.

Having interviewed Prof Dragan Savic from Exeter University just a few months earlier regarding his work developing computer software models that can help water companies to identify not only where potential leaks might occur, but even where they are occurring, I was well aware that input from leak reporters on the ground can provide water companies with the sort of invaluable data that can help them to fix such leaks in less than 12 hours.

Sadly, when I drove by the next day, I noticed that the leak had not been fixed and that water was still gushing out of the pipe. And, I’m sorry to report, it appeared that the day after that was no different. Yes, the water folks appeared to have placed some sort of plastic barrier around the leaky pipe, but the water was still spilling out into the road. The problem had clearly not been fixed.

Unhappily then, it would appear that while the water companies have plenty of available technology to help spot where such leaks are occurring, when it comes to the man- and woman-power available to actually go out there and fix them, they seem a bit lacking.

So next time the grass starts to look a bit brown, I shall go forth and water it for as long as it takes for it to return to its lush resplendent state. After all, if the water companies don’t care about wasting water, I don’t see why I should.

Dave Wilson
Editor, Engineeringtalk

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