Water leak on Lewes street causing ice prompts concerns from councillor

Southover High Street
Southover High Street

Pedestrians are being put at risk by a water leak on Southover High Street in Lewes which is leading to ice in cold weather, a councillor says.

Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe said people living right next to the road were concerned a lorry could hit their homes as a result of ice forming next to the Swan pub in Lewes.

The water leak has been a problem for about a year but so far Southern Water and East Sussex County Council have been unable to agree whose responsibility it is to fix it.

The county council and Southern Water are working to find a solution to the problem.

Cllr O’Keeffe said: “There has been an incredible waste of water in all the time that this has been going on, and as the coldest part of the year comes round again there will be considerable danger to both pedestrians and road users from the ice that will spread across the carriageway as the water freezes.

“People living right next to the road are concerned with good reason. I feel that they may even end up with a lorry hitting their houses which could be catastrophic.”

During December in Wealden two people died on the roads in collisions during icy driving conditions.

County council head of highways Roger Williams said: “The leak in Southover High Street was identified a year ago, at which point we carried out a preliminary investigation and found that the source of the leak was not an East Sussex County Council issue.

“We believe the source of the leak is a Southern Water issue and contacted them immediately to alert them.

“We have also been in touch with them [Southern Water] throughout the year in a bid to address the problem.

“Unfortunately, no action has been taken to carry out repairs and we have instigated a meeting with representatives from Southern Water to discuss a resolution to this issue.”

But a Southern Water spokesman said: “Our investigations have concluded that the water in Southover High Street is not from our network of water mains or sewers.

“We shut valves to check for leaks on our water mains but no problems were found.

“We have also carried out several chlorine tests – chlorine would have been detected if it was drinking water from a water main – all of which came back negative.

“Ammonia tests have also proved negative – indicating that the water does not contain sewage.

“We will continue to work with the council to find the source of this water and see what, if anything, can be done to stop it.”

Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe, who has been working with residents to resolve the issue, said there had been problems with a leak for well over a year near The Swan pub, where water constantly bubbles up from a manhole cover.

She said residents had told her in the winter when the water freezes the road surface becomes an ice skating rink.

They said they were very concerned that people might fall on the ice and be badly injured and possibly also run over if they could get up quickly as the road was busy.

Local residents have also told cllr O’Keeffe they were frightened that a large lorry would skid on the bend and end up in someone’s house, with terrible damage to the property and the risk of someone being killed in their front room.

Butcher Daniel Osborne, 25, of Framfield Road, died after his Landrover skidded and hit a tree in Horam on Monday December 29.

And on Sunday December 28 cyclist Michael Long, 79, from Hop Gardens, Fairwarp, collided with a Renault Megane in Nutley.

Police are investigating whether a frozen water leak on the carriageway caused the Nutley crash.