Thames claims "step change" in standard of response to bad-weather incidents

Thames Water has asserted it will make a “step change” in its ability to manage incidents like the disastrous freeze and rapid thaw that breached its networks in March this year “when we inevitably face similar challenges in the future.”

In his foreword to Thames’ freeze/thaw report – Our action plan to improve our Customer Incident Management – chief executive Steve Robertson (pictured) said: “We cannot promise that a similar incident will not happen in the future. What we can promise is that our ability to manage the impact will be transformed.”

He added: “Our failure to successfully protect all of our customers from the effects of the rapid thaw that followed an extended period of freezing temperatures has resulted in an intensive period of reflection on what went wrong and the lessons we need to learn."

The “key issues” listed by Thames as having led to its “failure to respond adequately” included:

• weather modelling system did not take into account a range of weather events; • emergency response and planning was not flexible enough to mitigate the impact of the incident on customers; • escalation of the incident was too late; • communication with vulnerable customers; and • communication with business customers and retailers was delayed and was not proactive.