THAMES Water has recovered more than £450,000 in the last three years from contractors, landowners and other third parties who illegally took water from hydrants.
With climate change and population growth putting a strain on water resources, the UK’s largest water company has clamped down on those using water but not paying for it.
More than 200 separate offences were uncovered, with the perpetrators either asked to pay a retrospective charge or prosecuted in court.
All of the money is reinvested back into crucial work to provide clean and wastewater services to 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley.
Companies and individuals who use unauthorised standpipes to illegally tap water from the network have accounted for as much as four million litres of water lost from the network since 2017, with everything stolen classed as leakage.
Claire Rumens, Thames Water’s illegal connections manager, commented: “We work hard around the clock to cut leakage and ask our customers to use water wisely, so it is not fair for others to take water without paying.
“Our work to find and stop illegal connections has ramped up in recent years, helping us to uncover hundreds of offences and save millions of litres of water, but there is still more to do.
“We will always look to work with individuals and companies before going to court but if lessons are not learnt then we have no hesitation about taking further action.”
Since 2017, there have been 23 prosecutions and more than 250 retrospective charges for unauthorised use.
Those found guilty can be charged thousands of pounds in fines and legal fees.
Anyone found using a standpipe without permission will be given the opportunity to pay a charge.
Those who fail to pay and repeat offenders will be prosecuted.