Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 17:34 UK

Leak gadget keeps water flowing

The gadget means supplies can continue while hydrants are mended

A water company is using specialist equipment to fix leaks without interrupting supplies to customers in Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire.

South East Water has already piloted the system and has agreed, with contractors, to use the Hydrant Wizard across all three counties.

The kit is used when replacing damaged hydrants which are taps on water mains.

It involves inflating a balloon inside the main to create a seal so work on the hydrant can take place.

'Seal created'

Equipment is attached to the top of the main, before a small hole is drilled into the pipe.

The balloon is then inserted through the hole and inflated.

South East Water said the balloon created a seal between the bottom of the damaged hydrant and the water in the pipe, which could still flow freely.

Mike Keleher, head of operations, said: "Previously, we could only fix leaks on our hydrants by first shutting off their water supplies, depressurising that part of the system, and then carrying out the repairs."

He said keeping the water supply "live" also avoided the potential for discoloured water after repairs had been carried out.

The firm serves 300,000 homes across parts of north Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire.

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