Derbyshire company in the docks after illegal hydrant use

Friday 20th January 2017

A Derbyshire company has been fined thousands of pounds after illegally using Severn Trent’s hydrants.

CPJ Environmental Ltd, based in Ashborne, plead guilty and was found guilty and fined a total of £2926.08 including costs at Worcester Magistrates Court yesterday.

The company already had warnings from Severn Trent back in 2014 about the offence, but following repeated hydrant misuse, Severn Trent was forced to take action. Illegal hydrant use is an activity that can lead to damage to the hydrants, loss of supply or discoloured water for customers.

Dan Littlewood, senior water fittings technician at Severn Trent, said: “People that take water illegally from our hydrants don’t realise the massive impact it has on our customers. Our customers could have discoloured water or the hydrant could be damaged, meaning that the fire service cannot access water in an emergency, all because some people think they’re above the law. Not only can it cause problems with the supply, it’s also not fair that they’re getting it for free, when the rest of us have to pay.”

Since the start of 2016, the company has successfully prosecuted 13 companies, issued four formal warnings and issued over 50 warning letters to companies that have been caught illegally using Severn Trent hydrants. There are also a further 14 companies currently under investigation, and some of these investigations may lead to formal cautions or even criminal prosecutions. “We’ve made it easier to spot those who are using our hydrants illegally” said Dan “We’ve teamed up with Aquam Water Services so now all of our authorised standpipes are painted bright green and feature our Severn Trent logo and the Aquam logo. So if anyone see’s our hydrants being used illegally, please let us know.”

If anyone sees someone they believe is using an illegal standpipe from a Severn Trent hydrant:

•    Don’t approach them;

•    Note down where they are and when it is;

•    Make a note of the details of the vehicle;

•    Take a picture showing the vehicle and the standpipe attached if you can do it safely; and then

•    Send the detail to

In addition to the new standpipes, Severn Trent has also been busy fitting tens of thousands of new locking caps to the hydrants which can only be unlocked with special equipment. To date, more than 30,000 locking caps have been fitted across the network.  This hopefully should put an end to people using and opening the hydrants without permission, making water supplies across the region much more secure.

Dan added: “Illegal hydrant use is one of the major causes of discoloured water in the Severn Trent region as the draw of water through the hydrant can disturb harmless sediment that normally sits at the bottom of the pipe.  If customers do ever experience their water being discoloured, simply run the first mains fed tap at a gentle rate for 20 minutes and the water should clear.  You may need to do this a few times to completely clear the water.  It’s nothing to worry about, and this simple advice may avoid the need for you to call us.”