MP criticises South East Water over supply issues

Picture from Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

A water company has issued a ban on hosepipes and sprinklers across Kent and Sussex on the fifth day of major water supply issues that have left almost 3,000 people with little or no water supply.

South East Water issued the ban five days after reports of many households and businesses being left without water.

Schools have also been forced to close amidst the water shortages, with concerns for elderly or vulnerable residents also growing.

Farms and equine facilities have also been affected. 

South East Water set up bottled water stations and pleaded for residents to only use essential supplies of water earlier this week.

A string of roadworks have also been announced to enable repairs and upgrades on the water network. 

Nusrat Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden, slammed the water company, as her constituents battled with the water supply issues.

Writing on Twitter earlier today, she said: “Today is Day 6 of misery and we’re still counting. It’s always too hot or too cold for @sewateruk to cope with demand in Wealden. We have been here before and lessons are never learnt.”

Yesterday, she wrote: “Six months after the major December disruptions, we are now on day 5 of yet another @sewateruk failure with 2,700 customers impacted.

“I continue making representations to SEW to make sure they are prioritising fixing the problems in Crowborough, Rotherfield, Mayfield and Wadhurst.”

Crowborough Town Council’s website continues to display a message from SE dated June 13, which reads: “Whilst we have gained some storage of water in the local area overnight, unfortunately, we do not believe that the amount of water available locally will be enough to meet all customer demand throughout the day.

“The local area is supplied by a drinking water storage tank at Cottage Hill and overnight we have been unable to refill the tank to satisfactory levels.”

The message then announced details of bottled water stations and referred residents to the SE Water website for more details.

A message on the South East Water website currently reads: “The demand for water is extremely high and is putting immense pressure on our network. This has left us with no choice but to introduce a hosepipe ban in Kent and Sussex.”

Another notice cited the hot weather and highlighted the recent high demand for water in graph form.

It stated: “Hot weather means we are using more water, much more than normal. 

“So, we need you to stop, think...and act: reduce your use and save water!”

South East water also stated that over the weekend, it supplied additional levels of water into the network, “enough to serve four towns the size of Maidstone or Eastbourne”.

“We had also experienced power outages at some sites, which take time to recover from, but we now have every available Water Treatment Works and water source open and running fully,” the water company said.

“However,we are still unable to keep up with demand because water usage is so high, beyond the typical levels we supply in summer. This means some families are without water.

“Therefore, we need to work together to reduce water usage and only use water for essential purposes.”

In December, South East Water customers were beset by supply issues when pipes burst due to snow and ice thawing rapidly.

This has led to calls for the water supply infrastructure to be examined and upgraded as a matter of urgency.

Similar warnings have also been issued in other parts of the UK and Northern Ireland in recent times, with several reports the pipelines and water supply infrastructure is struggling to meet demand.

On June 16, Northern Ireland Water issued a plea to residents to be more water efficient.

NI Water’s Education Officer, Anna Killen said “On hot days, outdoor water makes up to half of our daily water usage with paddling pools, sprinklers and hoses. 

“It’s important we think about the simple things we can all do to stay cool and save a bit of water too in our homes and our gardens.”

Anna also explained that on an average day, each person uses around 170 litres of water, but this increases even more on a hot sunny day to over 200 litres. 

She urged residents to avoid using hosepipes and sprinklers and added: “While it is tempting, please avoid using swimming or paddling pools. 

“Filling a 12ft swimming pool uses the same amount of water 500 people use for daily handwashing.”

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