COUNTY NEWS: Freezing weather causes '˜very large' number of burst water pipes across Sussex

An appeal has gone out from South East Water for people to help find leaks both inside their homes, on business premises and out in streets and fields.

Yesterday, the company saw an unprecedented demand for water which was five per cent more that it sees on the hottest day of summer.

The issue has been caused by the extreme weather over the past few days and the subsequent thaw, which the company said has put ‘extreme pressure’ on the complex underground system of 9,000 miles of pipes which takes drinking water from treatment works into homes.

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On a normal winter’s day, the company produces on average 500 million litres of water, but yesterday the high demand resulted in 630 million litres being treated and sent out into the network. This extra treated water would be enough to fill 50 Olympic sized swimming pools.

This comes while many people in Hastings are experiencing two days without proper running water due to a burst pipe, which Southern Water has apologised for.

Steve Andrews, South East Water’s head of central operations, said: “We would like to apologise to our customers from right across our region of parts of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire who are without water or have low pressure and reassure them that we are working around the clock to resolve the issue.

“At this stage we are not able to say when supplies will be back to normal as we are trying to locate what we believe to be a very large number of very small bursts right across our network. We are dealing with multiple leaks in cities, towns and villages so when we repair a pipe there are others still causing issues and water is not returning.”

“But it is not only underground where pipes are bursting but also in people’s homes and businesses premises.

Steve said: “We are asking people to look in their attics, airing cupboards, under their sinks and to check the taps out in their gardens to see if they have got any unnoticed leaks which could be a trickle at the moment but later will cause major damage. If leaks are detected, they should turn off their water supply at the stop tap and call a plumber.

“Can business owners also go and check on their unoccupied premises and landlords on any unoccupied homes as if there is a leak it could cause continued damage to their property as well as wasting valuable water supplies.

“Also when people are out and about can they be on the watch for any extra water which normally isn’t there. If they see a leak they can report it to us on our interactive map where they will also find updates on supply issues in their area.

Steve added: “We were prepared for the poor weather when it swept in and have also been planning for the thaw and the bursts we knew it would inevitably cause. While it is impossible to predict which pipes will burst and where, we have had crews on standby 24 hours a day and we have been sending them wherever they are needed.”

With water issues happening right across the country, the supplier of bottled water is under pressure and the company is doing all it can to get additional deliveries to areas without water.