More than a dozen schools have closed as thousands remain without water in Surrey a day after a major incident was declared, with problems at a treatment plant said to be caused by Storm Ciaran.
The storm battered the south coast of England and the Channel Islands with heavy rain and gusts of up to 104mph on Thursday last week, leaving nearly 150,000 homes without power.
Sky News understands an outage affected three of Thames Water’s treatment plants early on Thursday, with two of the sites restored to full operation.
But issues continued for longer at the Shalford water treatment works over the weekend, leaving 12,000 without water as of Monday morning in parts of Surrey.
Some schools in the Godalming and Guildford area said learning would move online for the day, while others invited some year groups to attend, or were due to reopen in the afternoon in a non-compulsory capacity.
A Thames Water spokesperson said: “Shalford water treatment works is now back online, following issues caused by Storm Ciaran.
“We need to refill underground reservoirs which have run very low and expect supply to return over the next 24 hours. We’d like to thank our customers for their patience during this time.”
It is believed the storm affected the quality of water entering the treatment plant, forcing a check to ensure drinking water standards were met.
As Sky News economics and data editor Ed Conway reported last month, Britain’s Victorian network of pipes – which combines sewage and rainwater – can often cause a myriad of difficulties.
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Britain’s pipe crisis revealed While systems reset and the plant’s reservoir tanks eventually replenish, Thames Water said it has opened two water bottle stations:
Crown Court Car Park, Godalming, GU7 1HRArtington Park and Ride, Old Portsmouth Road, Guildford, GU3 1LPBut one resident told Sky News on Sunday his elderly father, who is immobile after a hospital stay, had been unable to arrange a bottled water delivery.
“It’s worrying how many people without transport or relatives could be currently without any help from Thames Water,” Mr Davies said, though the firm said they arranged a delivery after Sky News got in touch.
“To leave an 84-year-old man without water while publicly saying they are looking after their vulnerable customers is nothing short of disgusting.”
Read more: ‘I’m furious’: Long queues form as thousands left without water
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is MP for South West Surrey which includes Godalming and the surrounding villages among the affected areas.
He said on Sunday he was “very concerned” about the situation and tweeted he would talk to a Thames Water executive.
After speaking to Alastair Cochran, Thames Water’s interim co-chief executive and chief financial officer, Mr Hunt posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the firm was “resetting and reprogramming” the control system.
He later added the firm was “tankering water” to ensure it “can support hospitals and bottled water stations remain open”.