Construction firm fined for interfering with water supply without consent
Construction firm Carpenter Projects has pleaded guilty to illegally interfering with the public water supply without consent in Liverpool. The company had built an apartment complex on Princeton Place in the city.
The firm was ordered to pay a total of £4,770 by a District Judge after the company accepted culpability. It pleaded guilty to one breach interfering with a water main without consent under section 174(1)(a) of the Water Industry Act 1991.
Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard the firm had illegally interfered with the public water supply without consent from United Utilities (UU). The water company first received telephone contact from an occupier of one of the flats at Princeton Place reporting a chemical and metallic odour to the water supply.
Specialist water quality sampling was undertaken, which indicated the presence of high concentrations of organic compounds in the water being supplied from the taps within the property. The tests had to be analysed at a laboratory in Warrington. The Cheshire & Merseyside Health Protection Team and UU issued a precautionary “Do Not Drink” advice to the occupants in Block A and B Princeton Place whilst investigations continued.
The court heard 31 customers called UU’s emergency control centre for help between April 26 and May 7, 2016.
Under caution, Carpenter Projects confirmed the connection was first made on or around July 2014 and, acting as the principal contractor for the development, instructed sub-contractors to attach the pipe to the public water supply.
Counsel for UU said significant efforts were made to locate the source connection given there had been no formal application. There was no indication of where or how this had been done, or whether the method of connection was safe or met the relevant UK regulatory requirements for the provision of drinking water to domestic properties.
High-tech specialist equipment called a ‘thumper’ device had to be used to locate underground water pipes by sending a rhythmic pulse and then picking up the noise with ground microphone. The investigation led engineers to a connection point located on Caryl Street, which was hidden.
Engineers spent weeks laying new pipework and inspecting alterations of internal pipework to ensure the 100-bed apartment blocks could be supplied with safe clean drinking water.
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