Tens of thousands of homes have been left without running water after thawing snow and ice caused an increase in burst pipes.
Residents of Kent, Sussex, Hertfordshire and Essex have been forced to turn to bottled water as suppliers scramble to restore supplies as households have gone more than 24 hours without water .
South East Water said up to 15,000 properties had had their running water cut off as they faced a 300 per cent increase in burst pipes compared to usual. This included Tunbridge Wells and surrounding areas.
Meanwhile, Southern Water said properties in Kent were without running water. Up to 20,000 people may have been affected.
Affinity Water said 8,000 customers, mostly in Hertfordshire and Essex, had their supply cut off.
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In a 7am Tuesday update, the water company said: ‘We are deeply sorry for the distress and inconvenience this incident has caused. Our crews worked through the night to fix the burst water main so we could resupply our customers. »
He added: “The repair is now complete, however, it will take time for water to flow throughout the network and for the supply to return.”
The company previously commented on the cause of the burst pipes: “On a normal winter day, we extract, treat and pump an average of 520 million liters of potable water per day for customers.
“In the past 24 hours, this has increased by 100 million liters to 620 million. This has resulted in many of our potable water storage tanks, which hold treated water before it is pumped to customer taps, becoming empty or very low.
“Although we have anticipated this, we cannot predict when or where the pipes will burst and we are responding as quickly as possible.”
Residents of Broadstairs, Manston, Margate and Ramsgate woke up to no running water on Monday morning, but Southern Water has since said water supplies in those areas were ‘almost fully restored’ after the burst water main was successfully repaired.
Thousands of Lancashire homes also reportedly had their water cut off on Monday due to bursting pipes and leaks.
Hilary Wilce, from Benenden in Kent, said she first noticed her water cut off this morning. While there is only her and her husband in their house at the moment, she is expecting up to 12 guests in the coming days for Christmas.
The couple rely on bottled water from the village store like many others in the area while waiting to hear when their water will be restored. According to Ms Wilce, South East Water said they will set up a water station with bottled water if they go without water for a long time.
“Everyone says it’s very exceptional – this terrible cold and then this heat, but it’s going to happen again and again because of climate change,” Ms Wilce said. The Independent.
“We are going to have very cold and very hot weather all the time now, so they [water companies] need to invest in more robust infrastructure or it will happen several times a winter.
However, Ms Wilce is no stranger to water shortages, as she encountered several during the summer heatwave.
She said: “We have brief water shortages quite often because I think they have to pump the water. When it was very hot, we would lose water for a few hours every night because there didn’t seem to be enough water flowing. They then said that it was because it was very hot this summer. Whenever it gets a little warmer or a little colder, we seem to have problems.
South East Water said: ‘We are still working hard to balance drinking water demand with supply after the cold snap.
“Some customers are experiencing intermittent water supplies and we apologize for any disruption this may cause.”
Bottled water stations have been opened at a rugby club in Haywards Heath, a golf club in Crowborough and a leisure center in Tonbridge.
Snow and ice rapidly melted as temperatures rose after days of wintry conditions in the UK.
Aviva, an insurance company, has urged people to watch out for water leaks as the weather warms and frozen pipes begin to thaw.
A Southern Water spokesman said on Tuesday: ‘We are sorry for the distress and inconvenience caused to our customers by the disruption to the water supply in Thanet.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis warned that melting ice could lead to dangerous road conditions: “With such weak weather conditions in many places being almost the exact opposite of last week, drivers leaving for Christmas have to be on their guard.
“The snow and ice are melting rapidly, bringing heavy spray to the surface, and in some areas the cold, clear conditions have been replaced by heavy rain and strong winds.
“Its vital drivers slow down for the conditions, taking particular care on elevated and exposed rural roads.”
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill added: ‘Also worth bearing in mind that before this it was obviously so cold so the ground was a bit frozen, the drains may have frozen in places.
“As a result, their ability to cope with precipitation may have been reduced, which is why we could see greater impacts, which is why the warning was issued.”