Cause of major Calderdale water main bursts revealed

The water main burst in Mytholmroyd and the damage it caused
The water main burst in Mytholmroyd and the damage it caused

The cause of two major water main bursts that forced Burnley Road to be closed and resulted in traffic chaos has been revealed.

It is believed two recent serious water main bursts happened because of changes in water pressure, with a loose connection on new length of pipeline possibly playing a part in the first.

READ: What Yorkshire Water is doing to prevent more major water main bursts
Speaking about incidents on September 5 at Mytholmroyd and September 9 at Luddenden Foot, a Yorkshire Water spokesman told members of Calderdale Flood Recovery and Resilience Programme Board an underlying cause was increased water pressure necessary because of one of the driest summers on record was affecting supply.

The first burst blew a hole in Burnley Road, Mytholmroyd, closing it for two days, and was followed by a second closure due to another collapse days later just a couple of miles away in Luddenden Foot, the route re-opening this time early on Tuesday, September 11.

At Mytholmroyd, one of the new connections on a new length of pipeline that had been laid – flood alleviation work is being carried out at the site – could have still been a bit loose, although the valve had not failed until seven hours later, said the spokesman.

READ: Scale of Mytholmroyd road damage caused by water main burst revealed
Yorkshire Water had responded to the problem, working with partner organisations to see water supplies reconnected by 1pm and repair to other damaged infrastructure completed by around 9pm that night.

In the case of Luddenden Foot, the company thought it was linked to the previous burst because of changes in pressure.

The incidents brought significant challenges which the company had met well, said the spokesman.

Both the assets did not have a history of failure and over the course of time had met the company’s normal investment criteria.

But the incidents had highlighted the impact of the bursts was much more significant than any other area and a report into this had been commissioned.

READ: Did flood alleviation scheme work contribute to Mytholmroyd water main burst
Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) asked if the company had a strategic plan in place for replacing assets which needed renewing.

Yorkshire Water had a good asset record, said the spokesman, adding that some of the company’s pipeline is 50 or 60 years old.

The company knew the approximate age of its pipelines and had investment plans to replace it.

It was also investing in smart networks, using satellite technology to identify potential issues when they were smaller, he said.

In the case of this stretch of Burnley Road, the last ten days had highlighted how different it was to YW’s normal impact risk assessment findings.

He thanked the volunteer flood wardens for their help in managing the impact of the bursts, sentiments also voiced by board chair Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town).

Coun Swift said after the meeting: “Once again, we saw amazing examples of the whole community pulling together to help each other out.

“We know how disruptive incidents like these can be for local people, so we must pay tribute to the real partnership approach to deal with the impacts.

“Our Vision for Calderdale in 2024 is a place that stands out for its kindness and resilience.

“The recent water main bursts, as well as previous incidents like flooding, are shining examples of our communities’ ability to recover from setbacks and care for each other.

“We’d like to thank the flood wardens, community wardens and all the local people involved for the fantastic support they gave to Yorkshire Water, the emergency services, the Council, other organisations and each other after the water main bursts.

“They played an important role in helping out, keeping residents informed and distributing water.”