More households are expected to lose running water in the south east of England and some could face Christmas Day without it.
Water companies are scrambling to ensure tens of thousands of homes in large parts of Sussex, Kent and Hampshire are reconnected by the weekend.
The companies said the rapid thaw of frozen pipes had increased the number of bursts and leaks on the underground pipe network, causing storage tank levels to drop after temperatures dipped below freezing.
Southern Water said on Wednesday evening: “We are sorry that our customers from SO15 – Southampton; SO16 – Bassett, Nursling, Millbrook, Chilworth, Chilworth Village Lord’s Hill; SO19 – Bitterne; SO21 – Compton, Compton Down, Hursley, Otterbourne, Shawford , Twyford; SO22 – Badger Farm; SO31 – Bursledon; SO50 – Eastleigh; SO51 – Ampfield, Braishfield; SO52 – North Baddesley; and SO53 Chandlers Ford are waterless.
“We expect more customers in the wider Yew Hill area – SO15, SO16, SO18, SO19, SO21, SO22, SO30, SO31, SO50, SO51, SO52, SO53 to either lose water pressure, either the supply in the next few hours.
“It is likely that this loss of pressure or water supply to your home will continue for at least the next 48 hours.”
South East Water said it is “committed to replenishing customers who are currently without water by Christmas Day, if not sooner”.
The company said there had been a 300% increase in the number of bursts, and chief executive David Hinton said BBC South East today about 5,000 properties were still affected on Wednesday.
In Tunbridge Wells, the water will remain off until Thursday morning.
A statement from South East Water said: “It is impossible to predict which pipes will burst and where, and we are working around the clock to find and fix these bursts and leaks as quickly as possible.
“We also used water tankers to inject more water into the system to maintain the supply for as long as possible.
“We are seeing high demand on the network and ask that you check your lofts, ventilation closets and outdoor faucets for leaks if you can.”
Emergency supplies of bottled water have been delivered to towns and villages.
Southern Water said in a statement: “Throughout the day, our teams worked hard to minimize the impact of the water restriction on our customers.
“The significant pressure on our network means that demand continues to outstrip supply. We’ve had to make tough decisions to ensure we protect critical infrastructure in Hampshire, such as local hospitals.”
The company said bottled water stations had opened in Hampshire at East and South Parks and Rides in Winchester and Places Leisure in Eastleigh.
The statement added: “Additional bottled water stations will open (Thursday) and we will confirm locations and times on our social media and website.
“We are very sorry for the disruption and inconvenience this is causing, particularly in the days leading up to Christmas. We are working as hard as we can to resume services by Sunday.”
Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, tweeted: “I have asked Southern Water to set up a bottled water station in Southampton – it is not acceptable that the closest is the park-o -bus from Winchester.
“I appreciate that the network is under extreme pressure, but residents who rely on public transport cannot get to Winchester tonight.”
Mr Hinton said in a statement: ‘Our teams are working hard to find, repair and repair leaks on our pipes, but we are also asking customers to help us by checking their empty homes, businesses, properties , their outdoor faucets and drinking troughs in any field for leaks and have them repaired as soon as possible.
“Leaks in properties can cause significant damage that can be expensive to repair.”