A major incident has been declared after thousands of people were left without water on Sunday after Storm Ciaran caused problems at a treatment works.
Thames Water said it was “really sorry about the continuing water supply problems” suffered by people in areas such as Guildford and Godalming, Surrey, saying that the storm had created issues at the Shalford water treatment works.
It said it was dealing with incidents involving reports of no water or low pressure while Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that Thames Water had told him that at least 13,500 homes had been affected by the issue by 2.50pm and a further 6,500 were expected to lose supply shortly.
Mr Hunt, who is MP for South West Surrey which includes Godalming and the surrounding villages among the affected areas, said he was “very concerned” about the situation and tweeted that he would talk to a Thames Water executive.
1/2 14.50 update from Thames Water CEO: They currently have 13,500 customers off supply and expect a further 6,500 to lose supply shortly. The site controls at Shalford Water Treatment Works have been reset and they're testing turbidity at low water production volumes. pic.twitter.com/pIzPqjRGli
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) November 5, 2023
Surrey County Council (SCC) advised affected residents to head to water stations at Crown Court in Godalming but they were faced with long queues.
Bottled water stations were set up at Artington Park and Ride in Guildford.
After speaking to Alastair Cochran, Thames Water’s interim co-chief executive and chief financial officer, Mr Hunt posted a message on X, formerly Twitter, which said the firm was “resetting and reprogramming” the control system.
The MP added: “If successful they will be able to restore supply to affected customers. Artington now open for water supply so that should relieve congestion.
“Good that SCC have now declared this a major incident. Next question is what the impact will be on schools tomorrow if it is not resolved. Also getting messages from pubs that have lost trade from closing on a busy day – big big impact on many people.”
The Chancellor later tweeted that the firm was “tankering water to ensure that they can support hospitals and bottled water stations remain open”.
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.
— Thames Water 💧 (@thameswater) November 5, 2023
By Sunday evening Mr Hunt tweeted that water chiefs were hoping to bring Shalford treatment works back on line as they had identified the cause of the problem.
He added: “They have significantly reduced water turbidity and are hopeful that the alarms will not trip once it has gone through.”
Earlier Thames Water had said: “We’re really sorry about the continuing water supply problems in GU1, GU2, GU3, GU5, GU6, GU7 and GU8.
“This follows issues caused by Storm Ciaran at Shalford water treatment works.”
It added: “Our engineers remain on site, working hard to get things back to normal. We’re also using tankers to pump water into our supply network.
“We know how worrying and inconvenient this is and thank you for your patience.”