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Burst water main

I was watching the tennis on the TV on Saturday afternoon when my neighbours popped by to give me a mis-delivered letter. Our house names are similar, and the postcode is the same, so occasionally the postman gets confused, and delivers me some of their post, or vice-versa. Tim asked me if I had any running water – I certainly hoped I did, as I had a load of laundry in the washing machine. I checked the tap, and yes I did have water, but the pressure was lower than usual. Tim informed me that there was a very good reason for that – the water main had burst under the road outside their house, for the third time this year. Severn Trent have kept patching it up, but clearly have not done a proper job.

I went outside to have a look and, sure enough, there was water gushing across the main Malvern to Ledbury road. One of my other neighbours, who is further up the hill than me, had already found that his taps had run dry, as there wasn’t enough water pressure to reach his house. Sometime later four workmen turned up in a Severn Trent van, dug a big hole in the road, and then all four of them stood in it scratching their heads and looking puzzled. I watched them for a while, and they clearly decided that they needed to dig an even bigger hole in the road. It was about then that I lost virtually all water pressure in the house. Cooking dinner suddenly became more of a challenge than I had anticipated! It made me realise just how much water I use when cooking, and how often I wash my hands! It was very difficult with barely a trickle coming out of the taps. The washing machine failed to cope with the lack of water pressure, so I had to pump it out and leave a load of soggy laundry waiting in the basket until they fixed the leak.

After an hour or so, there was a dreadful noise in the pipes as the cistern in the bathroom started refilling. I turned on the tap in the kitchen, and filthy brown water came spluttering out. Clearly a lot of air had got into the system, and for the rest of the weekend turning on a tap has been a somewhat hazardous experience. It’s like playing Russian Roulette – usually it’s ok but every so often there will be a huge air-bubble and the water will explode out of the tap and completely soak me! I’ve had to put my sweater in the wash, as I was rinsing out a roasting dish full of lamb fat and juices when there was a seeming explosion in the pipework, and I got sprayed from head to toe in filthy washing-up water!

At least it wasn’t quite so bad this time as last time the same pipe burst, a few months ago. I hadn’t initially realised there had been a problem, as I had been out during the day while the burst was patched up. But when I flushed the toilet, there was an almighty noise, a hammering and thudding, and the cistern shook so much I thought it was going to come right off the wall! I can quite see how some people might come to believe in Poltergeists! The noise went on for a good ten minutes, which was easily long enough for me to get quite seriously worried. I tried turning on the taps in the kitchen and bathroom, but the airlock was such that nothing came out other than a high pressure hiss of damp air. I’d just decided that the only thing to do was to try to isolate the cistern by turning off its valve and had gone looking for a screwdriver, when I think enough water must have finally forced its way into the cistern mixed in with the air, as it thankfully slowed and shut itself off. The water in all my cold taps was a horrible brown colour though, and even though I ran the kitchen tap for quite a while I thought it better to filter and boil the water before drinking it.