|Thames Water today called on its 13.8 million customers to help it fight leakage this winter by reporting burst or leaking water pipes when they spot them.
Britain's biggest water and sewerage company said bursts on its ageing 20,000-mile network of pipes had doubled since the current freezing weather began.
Jerry White, Thames Water's Head of Operational Control, said: "Since last weekend leaks reported to us from customers have doubled and this has doubled our engineers' workload. We are prepared for this, having significantly increased the number of leakage crews working across our London and Thames Valley supply region at the end of October - before it got cold rather than when.
"Although this forward-planning has helped, we still really need our customers' help in the fight against leakage this winter.
"So if you see a leak or burst, don't assume we know about it. Instead call our freephone 24-hour Leakline on 0800 714 614 so we can get on with fixing it as quickly as we can. Remember, though, that the icy conditions can prevent engineers moving around as easily as they'd like, so please bear with us."
A targeted programme is under way across London boroughs and in the Thames Valley to find and fix both visible and invisible leaks.
Jerry added: "Not all leaks are obvious. A lot are underground and unseen. So as well as tackling the obvious leaks that spill water out over a road or pavement, our engineers are now also trying to find and fix less obvious, underground leaks.
"If left unchecked, unseen leaks can soon become big, visible bursts, so by fixing them before they get worse we hope to minimise really serious disruption.
"Inevitably, however, our work will cause some disruption to road-users and residents for which we apologise in advance. There'll also be some early starts. Again, we're sorry for that too. This is must-do work so we'd ask people to bear with us."