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What is water pressure?

These key facts explain the core principles of what makes up water pressure:

1. The pressure of the water in the piped supply system is created by gravity due to the height of the source of the water, for instance a reservoir. It may be created or assisted by using a pump (simulating the effect of gravity).

2. This creates a 'head' of water which is measured in "metres head". (The best way to visualise this is how high up the water will go in a vertical pipe if it were connected to the water main at that point). This means that pressure in the mains will vary, generally properties at a high elevation relative to the source receive lower pressures and properties at a lower elevation receive water at a higher pressure.

What is water pressure

3. Pressure also varies in the service pipes which connect properties to the water main. Each service pipe comprises a section of 'communication' pipe which South West Water is responsible for and which may supply one or more properties and a section of 'supply pipe' that customers are responsible for.

4. Supply pipes that are: 

  • in poor condition with rough inner surfaces or have a leak
  • shared by a number of properties
  • are very long or have a small bore

will reduce the water flowing in them.

Back to Water Pressure, Supply Interruptions, and Pressure Management

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