The extreme weather that has battered the UK has caused a water shortage in London and the South East with households being asked to use as little water as possible.
Water companies say they are witnessing “exceptionally high levels of demand for water” as engineers attempt to fix a rash of burst pipes and leaks on the network.
Thames Water confirmed up to 12,000 homes are without water, but the total is being reduced as problems are resolved.
The ‘Beast From The East’ brought snow misery to thousands in the last week, but temperatures are set to reach double figures in the south.
Orange and yellow alerts for snow and ice are still in place across Ireland until midday on Monday.
In a joint statement on Sunday evening, Thames Water, South East Water, Southern Water and Affinity Water asked customers not to use water “for anything that isn’t essential”, and where possible “take short showers rather than baths, do not leave taps running unnecessarily and only run washing machines and dish washers when you have a full load”.
“Following the recent freeze and rapid thaw, water companies across London and the South East of England are experiencing exceptionally high levels of demand for water due to multiple bursts on networks and an increase in leaks in and on customer properties.
“So they are asking their customers who have water to use as little as possible while they get things back to normal. Not all areas are affected equally, but significant numbers of customers are currently without water or have low pressure.
“We are putting as much extra water as we can into our local networks and fixing leaks and bursts as quickly as possible. We sincerely apologise to all those who are currently without water or experiencing low pressure. Right now we really need all our customers’ support and understanding to help us rebuild supplies in our networks for everyone as quickly as possible.
“Please do not use water for anything that isn’t essential. Where possible, take short showers rather than baths, do not leave taps running unnecessarily and only run washing machines and dish washers when you have a full load. This will make a real difference.
“In the meantime, we are all working hard to prioritise supplies for vulnerable customers, to provide bottled water where necessary and to provide updates via social media and our websites.
“We would also ask all our customers to check their own pipes for bursts and call a plumber if necessary. Outside taps are especially vulnerable to freezing temperatures and bursts may not be obvious. Anyone responsible for commercial premises, which may not have been visited since the thaw started, should make sure their pipes have not been damaged.
“We will let you know via our websites and the media when things are back to normal.”
Separately, Thames Water said: “We’ve seen an increase in leaks and bursts on our network, which we are urgently dealing with as fast as we possibly can. But the sudden and widespread surge in demand, coinciding with the rise in temperatures, means we also need to urge all our customers to check their own pipes for bursts and call a plumber if necessary.
“Outside taps are especially vulnerable to freezing temperatures and bursts may not be obvious. We would also ask anyone responsible for commercial premises, which may not have been visited since the thaw started, to make sure their pipes have not been damaged.
“We are getting as much extra water into our network as we can and sincerely apologise to all our customers who are currently without water or who have low pressure.
“Right now we really need our customers’ support and understanding to help us to get everyone back into supply quickly by avoiding non-essential uses of water, having a shower instead of a bath for example, for the time being. In the meantime our teams are working hard to prioritise services for vulnerable customers and stand up locations from which our customers can collect bottled water.”