Building firm fined for illegal water mains shut-off affecting thousands

A construction firm has been fined for interfering with a water main after its actions affected supplies to thousands of Manchester homes.

Tinnelly Construction Ltd, of Newtown Road, Rostrevor, Newry, turned off a mains water valve in Southmoor Road, Wythenshawe, on December 14, 2017, in order to isolate the supply to a nearby demolition site, Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court was told today (August 7).

The firm had not informed or sought or received consent from the owner of the pipe, the region’s water company United Utilities, the court heard.

In a case brought by United Utilities Water Ltd, Tinnelly Construction Ltd admitted a charge of contravening section 174 of the Water Industry Act 1991 by interfering with a water main. Magistrates fined Tinnelly Construction £650 and ordered it to pay United Utilities’ court costs of £2,918.

Speaking after the case, United Utilities regional water network business manager Alex Bolton said: “As a result of the incident, our customers were severely inconvenienced and normal pressures to some homes were not fully restored until seven hours later at after 11pm.

“As with any utility, the correct procedure would have been for the firm to contact us, tell us its intention and seek advice. We would have shut off the water to the demolition site using the correct valves and saved a lot of unnecessary disruption for our customers.

“As well as the cost of mobilising an emergency response to deal with the incident, this unplanned supply interruption contributed to United Utilities missing one of its regulatory targets, which attracts a financial penalty.

“This is money which would have been better spent investing in our water supply for the benefit of all our customers, we have a zero tolerance approach to interference with our assets and will consider enforcement action each time,” said Mr Bolton.

United Utilities is now considering further civil action in respect of its losses relating to the incident.