Dirty vans help meet record demand for water during heatwave

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Dirty TW van

Thames Water’s gleaming blue and white vans will be staying grubby during the heatwave as record demand for water continues across London and the Thames Valley.

The company operates a 1,600-strong fleet of vehicles and has issued advice to all drivers asking them not to wash them unless completely necessary, with the hot weather expected to last for at least another two weeks.

Customers have also been urged to save water by taking shorter showers and not cleaning their cars or watering their grass. A garden sprinkler uses as much water in an hour as a family of four need for a day, and your grass will soon recover.

Michelle Nasr, Thames Water fleet manager, said: “We take great pride in our fleet and ordinarily make sure we keep the vans clean. But as long as our drivers can see out of their windows and their number plates are clearly visible we don’t mind if they look dirty for a while if it means more water is available for our customers.”

A pressure washer or hose can use between five and eight gallons of water a minute so any Thames Water vans which urgently need cleaning, due to contamination from sewage, for example, will be done with a bucket and sponge during the hot spell.

More water saving tips shared via social media and radio stations for customers include watering plants in the garden at night with a can instead of a hose and reusing water from paddling pools to cool down pets and then water plants.

Andrew Tucker, water efficiency manager, added: “Making just a few small changes to your routine, while also enjoying the sunshine, will make a big difference.”

Thames Water is pumping an extra 450 million litres into its overall network – 17 per cent more than normal – to cope with high demand during the heatwave, with a record 1,000 leaks a week being fixed across the underground pipe network.