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University of Edinburgh

Our quick response and effective communication helped minimise disruption to our customers caused by a major burst main incident in Edinburgh.

On 23 September 2016, local press in Edinburgh reported a burst trunk main, causing significant damage and interrupting the mains supply to the area. From 8.45am we began receiving calls from customers in the area reporting problems.

Our customer service team immediately alerted our emergency and contingency manager for the area, David Campbell, who liaised with Scottish Water to establish the scale of the disruption.

A complex problem

The impact was far reaching. The University of Edinburgh experienced disruption to many of its buildings, including low water pressure and no supply to the halls of residence, which accommodates 5,000 students. Many other University buildings, including a critical research facility, had lost their water supply on numerous floors.

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary were experiencing similar issues and reported their storage tanks as critically low. The National Museums of Scotland also had low water pressure and were concerned about whether a gala dinner planned for that evening could go ahead.

Scottish Water then advised that a second trunk main had also burst.

Addressing the issues

Our team monitored the Scottish Water website for updates and began checking on our customers directly, with account managers from all sectors providing a coordinated response across the varied sites.

We were contacted by Grant Ferguson, Assistant Director of Estates at the University of Edinburgh, as there were significant concerns about the impact of the disruption. We provided regular updates on the remedial work, which enabled the University to coordinate a planned response to the incident and continue with arrangements for an open day. A supply of bottled water was organised and delivered to the halls of residence.

We implemented our emergency water plan for the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, dispatching four tankers to replenish their supply.

Following the repair of one burst and re-routing of the other, we were able to tell the National Museums of Scotland that water pressure would increase late afternoon or early evening, so their event could go ahead.

To keep customers informed we posted regular updates on our website and our customer service team remained on-hand until 7pm. We stayed in contact with affected customers until supplies began returning to normal.

Future proofing

Following the event, we held meetings with representatives of the university and the museum to discuss lessons learned and further developing contingency plans, in case of future supply disruption.

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