Households in Aird Tong have found themselves without water today (Thursday January 31st) as mains pipes froze in the unusually cold conditions.

Scottish Water is in the process of upgrading work including laying new mains, with contractors CalMax undertaking the work, which includes a process known as ‘pipe-splitting’. This requires new pipes to be run through the old mains, with new connections then created to each customer.

While this work is happening, a temporary supply pipe is laid overland to keep the regular water supply running while the main pipe is being worked on.

But the current wintry conditions have caught contractors out, with the overland pipe freezing in places over the past week and householders being advised to leave taps running overnight, as moving water is less likely to freeze.

Scottish Water’s local assets manager Malcolm Macleod told welovestornoway.com today: “We are aware of the problem affecting households in Tong and we sincerely apologise to customers.

“The system contractors are using, to replace and upgrade the mains using a temporary overland pipe, is well-known and allows us to complete the new pipe, test and pressurise it, with the minimum disruption to customer supply.

“However, we were not expecting such a cold snap and it has led the areas of temporary pipe laid overland to become vulnerable to freezing. We do sometimes get caught out.

“Engineers have fitted mechanical couplings which can be opened to clear frozen blockages in the pipe, and we have also advised customers to allow taps to run, especially at night, so that freeze-ups are less likely. Our contractors have also left the end valve on the system slightly open so that the water supply is drawn through.

“The major work on the system should be completed within two to three weeks and, in the meantime, we are doing our best to advise customers on how to keep the system running smoothly. If they have any problems, at any time, they can call Scottish Water’s 24-hour customer care centre on 0800 0778 778 and they will be directed to the team leader in charge of the work at whatever time of the day or night they call.”