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SWW issues warning over unauthorised standpipe use

South West Water (SWW) has warned businesses not to steal water from its public supply network or they could run the risk of prosecution. The advice follows the recent successful prosecutions of three companies for unauthorised standpipe use.

Devon road sweeping firm Brooking Hire pleaded guilty to the illegal use of a hydrant at London Road, Clyst Honiton, Exeter, on August 29. The company was fined £450 and ordered to pay costs of £933 and a victim surcharge of £45 by Exeter Magistrates Court on November 24.

Similarly, Kent-based Purple Rhino Contract Cleaning pleaded guilty to the illegal use of a hydrant in Sidwell Street, Exeter on April 7, 2017. The company was fined £650 and ordered to pay £930 in costs plus a victim surcharge of £65 by Exeter Magistrates Court on October 26, 2017.

Devon contractor Sam Gilpin Demolition also pleaded guilty to the illegal use of a hydrant at Rhubarb Hill, Newquay, on February 28, 2017. The company was fined £500 and ordered to pay £1,196.04 in costs plus a victim surcharge of £50 at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court on September 14, 2017.

Bob Taylor, SWW’s operations director for drinking water services, said: “Connecting unauthorised standpipes to our network is an issue we take very seriously. It creates a potential risk to water quality, which could result in public health issues and damage to our infrastructure.

“It can also interfere with our customers’ supplies or fire service activities. We monitor the use of our network closely and will take action against anyone who is detected making unauthorised use of a standpipe.”

SWW said only authorised standpipes can be connected to its infrastructure at approved locations, and unauthorised use could result in a fine of up to £3,000 for each incident.

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