By Christmas the Trust will have completed a major, half million pound, overhaul of all water points across the network to ensure compliance with new legislation. Under this legislation, which has to be complied with by 2015 at the latest, we are classed as a Private Distribution Network and covered by tougher requirements than in the past with non-compliance a criminal offence.
We surveyed water points installed before 1999 – about 1,120 out of a total of just over 1,300. Around 1,000 of these were non-compliant with these latest regulations for a few reasons; some potentially allowed water to siphon back and contaminate the water supply, others weren’t tamper proof, some needed a stop tap and a drain down valve while others didn’t have the right insulation, right type of tap or a double check valve.
The programme of water point upgrading has been taking place over the last 18 months. All 1,000 non-compliant water points will have been either completely replaced with modern units or had their internal parts upgraded. As well as meeting legal requirements we hope the changes will improve customer service and reduce maintenance costs.
We’ve tried to retain as many cast iron heritage water points as possible. The majority of those non-compliant (about 790 out of the 1,000) have been saved and upgraded to modern standards. Where refurbishment of heritage cast iron water points has not been possible, as was the case for 25 of them, they have been replaced with modern cast iron versions.
In a small number (about 180) of places, mainly where basic standpipes have been replaced and where there are no heritage implications, a much cheaper standard stainless steel water point unit has been installed. .
So because of the refurbishment and replacement programme, you might notice that some water points have changed in appearance but that will be the only practical change, other than compliance with the new requirements – the water supply is exactly the same. It’s worth noting that the new stainless steel pipes only have a single tap, as do some of the refurbished cast iron ones, whereas the old cast iron units had two outlets. However, the old twin outlet cast iron water points were controlled by a ‘T’ port valve which meant that only one side would work at any one time so it doesn’t make any practical difference whether there is one or two taps!
We’re confident that, by the time the complete upgrade is finished, the supply of water to boaters will improve (there’s less chance of cross-contamination and these new points are designed to be less likely to freeze in the winter) and ongoing maintenance costs will be less. Every single water point will also have a stop-tap meaning that, if we do have to do some repairs, we don’t have to stop the water supply to a large area.
The Navigation Advisory Group – made up of experienced boaters – recently took the opportunity to review the project and gave it their full support, recognising that it will improve services for boaters.
As with any major change like this there may be places where an installation hasn’t been done quite right. We would like to hear if you experience any difficulties with the new water points so that we can ask contractors to fix any problems as quickly as possible If you have any feedback please ring us on 0303 040 4040 or email us at email@example.com.
It’s not just water points that are being upgraded. We’re doing lots of other ‘behind the scenes’ work to sanitary station pipework to ensure that there’s even less chance of the wet stuff being cross-contaminated by another ‘dirty’ source.