Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

Major incident declared as thousands in UK without water for 48 hours

A major incident has been declared as thousands of people have been without access to water thanks to “ongoing problems” at a Thames Water treatment works.

The water firm says engineers are battling to restore supplies to people living in Surrey, after Storm Ciarán damaged the Shalford water treatment works.

The company has apologised to its customers, whose taps ran dry on Saturday afternoon.

Responding to the sudden water shortage, Thames Water provided bottled water at several locations. However, those looking to stock up were confronted by lengthy queues at the sites.

Such was the frenzy around the absence of drinking water, that supermarkets in the area reported customers panic buying bottles. According to the BBC, Waitrose in Godalming ran out.

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Jeremy Hunt, who as well as being the Chancellor is also the local MP, said that the CEO of Thames Water had informed him that around 13,500 customers were without their supply. His post on X at 3.18pm also said that 6,500 more were set to lose their supply shortly.

He added: “The site controls at Shalford Water Treatment Works have been reset and they’re testing turbidity at low water production volumes. If this is successful, they can increase production to a level that will restore supply.

“Thames Water are tankering water to ensure that they can support hospitals and bottled water stations remain open.”

A statement from Thames Water on X said: “We’re really sorry about the ongoing problems. Our engineers are still working to restore supplies to the area. In the meantime we’ll continue running our bottled water stations. We’re also using tankers to pump water into the pipe system.

“Storm Ciarán has caused issues at Shalford Water Treatment Works, affecting local supplies. There’s bottled water at Crown Court Car Park, The Burys, Godalming, and at Artington Park & Ride, Old Portsmouth Road, Guildford.”

Surrey County Council said a major incident had been declared in the area.

Council Leader Tim Oliver said: “Surrey County Council is continuing to work with partners across the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), following notification from Thames Water of a water shortage in the Guildford/Waverley areas.

“This has been declared a major incident by the LRF. All partners will continue to work closely with Thames Water, who are the lead agency in this incident, to inform and support residents in these areas, particularly those most vulnerable.”

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