Thames Water has announced a three-year programme to replace Victorian water mains across much of SE1.
The plans were announced at a briefing session for community and business representatives held at the Purcell Room on the South Bank.
Bill Becker from Thames Water explained that one third of London's water supply is currently lost through leakage.
The capital's Victorian water mains are crumbling – half of Thames Water's pipes date from before 1900 – and the company is currently dealing with an average of 240 leaks per day.
Under pressure from water regular Ofwat to improve the leakage rate, Thames Water is replacing 1,100 miles of pipe by 2010. 330 miles have been replaced so far, and the utility company is about to install 62 miles of new pipes in the SE1 area.
The affected area is bounded by the River Thames and Lambeth Road, Kennington Road, Brook Drive, New Kent Road, Tower Bridge Road, Bermondsey Street, Crucifix Lane, Barnham Street, Tooley Street and Morgans Lane.
The first works will begin in October 2006 and the project is due to be completed by March 2010.
Each household and business in the area is likely to lose its water supply for between 2 and 8 hours whilst work is carried out. Residential customers will receive at least 48 hours' notice of the work and business customers will be notified 72 hours in advance.
The project team is urging businesses and organisations which have special requirements for an uninterrupted water supply to get in touch to see what special arrangements can be made for a temporary supply.
Meters will be fitted to the pipe supplying each home, but Thames Water insists these won't be used for billing purposes unless requested by the customer. The meters will help the company to track leaks in the system and understand demand and usage patterns.
The meeting heard concerns from Lambeth councillor Peter Truesdale (Bishop's ward) and Southwark councillor Tim McNally (Chaucer ward) about the impact roadworks would have on residents' parking arrangements in Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) in the area.
A Southwark Council officer voiced concerns that Thames Water was embarking on another project in Southwark when it has three ongoing and unfinished projects in the south of the borough.
Thames Water officials insisted that they were committed to ongoing consultation and communication with local residents and businesses.
All residents will be invited to a drop-in session in their area where they will be able to learn more about the work. A letter will be sent to all premises two weeks before work starts in the street.
• Specific questions can be directed to the project office on 020 8213 8798. The project website is at www.thameswater.co.uk/newpipes
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