Severn Trent successfully prosecutes company for illegal hydrant use across Birmingham

Friday 26th May 2017

Severn Trent has successfully prosecuted a company for illegally using its hydrants across Birmingham.

National Road Sweepers, were caught using illegal standpipes twice and found guilty on both charges. They were fined a total of £3,834.71, including costs, at Birmingham Magistrates Court yesterday.

The prosecution confirms that Birmingham has become a hotspot for illegal hydrant use, with Severn Trent calling on local people to be hydrant heroes and to report any suspicious hydrant use. People or companies using hydrants illegally can lead to customers getting discoloured water or could have more serious ramifications.

Dan Littlewood from Severn Trent, says: “We’re confident that people across Birmingham don’t want to have discoloured water as a result of others thinking they’re above the law. Illegally using our hydrants has a massive impact not only for our customers but could also mean the fire service is unable access water in an emergency if the hydrant gets broken, which could have devastating consequences.”

Since the start of 2016, the company has successfully prosecuted 16 companies and written more than 80 warning letters to companies that have been caught illegally using Severn Trent hydrants. There are also a further 14 companies currently under investigation.

“To make it easier to spot those using our hydrants illegally, we’ve teamed up with Aquam Water Services,”  said Dan. “This now means all of our authorised standpipes are painted bright green and feature the Severn Trent and Aquam logos. So, if anyone sees our hydrants being used by someone using anything other than a bright green standpipe, 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 company name;•    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.”