Yesterday morning I noticed that water pressure in the taps seemed to be dropping and then it ceased flowing altogether. The next door neighbours (who are on the same supply line as we found out when we first tried to get a water meter fitted) popped round because they were experiencing the same. I thought it might be connected to a major pipeline replacement project going on nearby but neighbours a couple of doors down in the other direction were fine which suggested that wasn’t the cause.
I rang Thames Water and waited. Their engineer took a little longer than expected to arrive but, to be fair, he actually found and fixed the problem quite quickly. It turned out someone had turned off the valve in the roadside hatch! All he actually had to do was twist it 90° and we were back on. If I was more aware of how the valves worked, I could have fixed it myself when I checked the hatch earlier – I had noticed it was slightly lifted earlier and took a look to see if there was any flooding evident but didn’t spot the turned valve.
So what was the cause. I think it may have been another neighbour also on the same shared supply. If they didn’t realise it was the case – and Thames Water hadn’t when they first fitted the meter – they may have turned off the water for a project they were doing and not realised it affected other houses. After all, there are three Thames Water hatches out there and they may have assumed it was one per property. Hopefully they haven’t been flooded although there was no-one in to check with when we had the supply turned back on.
And the science lesson from all this? Look for the side effects of your actions: X may cause Y to happen but what if it also causes Z?