Having been approached by a large number of concerned and frustrated residents in the Mid Sussex constituency regarding issues with water supplies I have raised this directly with South East Water this morning. I must say I have been disappointed that I had to do this rather than better communications from them and I have raised this matter too as not acceptable. They assure me that they are actively working on the issue which relates to getting the water to customers from the source rather than a lack of available water.
They confirm that reservoir levels are sufficient for the time of year however the increased demand due to the extremely high temperatures in the area has been so extensive that they are struggling to get water supplied to the point of demand. They explain that as part of their immediate intervention they have set up water supply stations with bottled water and have organised tanker transfers of reservoir water nearer to point of use to try to relieve this situation.
This has particularly affected the villages and I have also been contacted by areas of Haywards Heath. For completeness details of the areas reported to me have also been fed into South East Water too.
I recognise this particularly difficult for our older & vulnerable residents during the Covid impact. I have asked that people are attended to as a matter of priority and those more vulnerable taken into account.
Please see their current locations of the three bottled water stations on this live map: orlo.uk/wg9PJ
South East Water have meanwhile emphasised their key request for residents not to use hosepipes for washing cars, watering gardens, filling pools at this time – this follows their public engagement late last week via their newsletters, BBC Radio Sussex interviews and social media campaign.
They say if this is adhered to they assure my casework team that matters will return to normal. However, meanwhile I am assured they are doing all they can to rectify this urgently and we will keep pushing for progress. I am expecting further details to follow and will update this webpage as I hear more.
Updates: 12:45 Monday 10th August
For those vulnerable customers South East Water advise that when they have no-water situations they deliver water to those on their Priority Services Register. If anyone isn’t on this already and needs their help please sign up the South East Water website https://www.southeastwater.co.uk/get-help/help-for-priority-customers or call their Customer Care team directly on 0333 000 2468.
Bottled water stations are located (as per link above) to cover Bolney, Warninglid, Cuckfield/Whiteman's Green. I am aware the Bolnore is also affected and have made a suggestion to South East Water of a potential station there.
Updates: 17:30 Monday 10th August
South East Water have provided the following update:
Water supply issues in Bolney, Bolnore Village, Cuckfield, Haywards Heath and Warninglid
We are continuing to work hard to fix water supply issues in Mid-Sussex after some customers experienced low water pressure or no water.
Up to 300 households in Bolney, Bolnore Village, Cuckfield, Haywards Heath and Warninglid are currently affected. Demand for water has been up to 30% higher than a normal summer and we’ve been pumping an extra 150 million litres around our supply network each day.
Over the weekend, Warninglid Water Tower and Cuckfield underground storage reservoir became low, meaning the pumps were unable to boost supplies as normal.
All of our water production sites in the area are being staffed by our expert technicians 24/7 to make sure they run without interruption. We’re also working hard to repair any leaks as quickly as possible.
Four bottled water stations have been set up and are being regularly replenished:
- The Rawson Hall, The St, Bolney, Haywards Heath RH17 5PF
- Seaforth Hall, The St, Warninglid, Haywards Heath RH17 5TR
- The Woodside community centre, 120 Middle Village, Haywards Heath RH16 4GJ
- Haywards Heath Rugby Football Club, Whitemans Green, Cuckfield, Haywards Heath RH17 5HX
We're asking customers to recycle the water bottles in their blue bins after use.
We are also using tankers to inject top-quality drinking water from other areas of our network directly into the pipes around Bolney, Warninglid, Cuckfield and Haywards Heath.
Customers signed up to our Priority Services Register have had bottled water delivered directly to their door.
Demand is expected to remain high throughout the week and customers who do have water should continue to use this for essential use only, such as drinking, cooking and hand washing.
Updates: 17:00 Tuesday 11th August:
South East Water have provided the following update:
Work carried out overnight
Our teams have worked 24/7 trying to restore supplies to those customers in Mid-Sussex impacted by no water since Friday. Last night we refilled our key treated water storage tank in Cuckfield so we could safely restart the boosters to pump water into the network this morning. This will restore supplies to those customers who desperately need it who have been off since Friday. However we need to get more water into this system and it may still be intermittent. We are working hard to try to make sure it is on for this evening, but we can’t guarantee it.
Restoring water supplies throughout today
Overall, around 300 properties have had no water since Friday; others in the area have had intermittent supplies but we appreciate this has been off at key times when needed in the morning and evening. Yesterday we supplied 673 million litres of water – this is significantly more than normal – around an additional 130 million litres, close to the record demand of Friday which was 696 million litres.
We are moving water around the network, this may mean other locations experience low pressure or no water this evening, however we need to do everything we can to get the people in that Haywards Heath, Cuckfield, Warninglid, Slaugham and Bolney area back on – that is our priority.
We will continue to operate tankers in the area trying to inject water into the network, but it is very complex and will mean supplies continue to be intermittent.
There are bottled water stations set up still and we have hand delivered more than 32,000 bottles across our region to our vulnerable customers that are registered on our Priority Services Register.
We have deployed 23 bowsers into the area to help with deliveries to these customers. Anyone with livestock that needs water should contact our customer services team. For contacting our customer services, customers/businesses can call 0333 000 0002 or in an emergency, call us 24/7 on 0333 000 0365.
We have sent text messages and emailed everyone in the area whose details we have. We also have staff out hand delivering letters to those impacted. Please be reassured we will be organising compensation for these customers. Everyone has worked tirelessly but we haven’t been able to supply these customers just when they needed it.
We are very sorry and can only reiterate that we are doing everything we can and are working 24/7 to meet the demands for water.
We’re asking customers to minimise their water use, and in particular to help us by avoiding all garden water use this week. Storms are forecast and cooler weather is on its way.
Updates: 14:00 Wednesday 12th August
South East Water have provided the following update:
Our teams have worked 24/7 trying to restore supplies to those customers in Mid-Sussex impacted by no water since Friday. At the same time we are dealing with a number of smaller incidents around the region, including intermittent supplies in Heathfield and a burst water main in the Rotherfield area of East Sussex.
The high demand for water across our region has meant there are customers who have had no water or low pressure. All customers in the Mid-Sussex area who had been off since Friday had their water supply return on the 11 August. This was following work to reroute water around our network and the key treated water storage tank in Cuckfield was able to fill enough overnight for us to safely restart the boosters to pump water out into the network that morning. This restored supplies to those customers who desperately needed it who had been off since Friday. As explained though this was likely to remain intermittent until we could get more water into the system. Supplies went off the evening of the 11 August but were restored again on the morning of 12 August. We are working hard to try to make sure it is on for this evening.
Moving water around meant other locations, Balcombe, Handcross area experienced low pressure or no water but this interruption was overnight and we have been able to restore supplies this morning (12 August). We ask everyone to please only use water for essential use of drinking, hygiene and cooking the next few days, thundery showers are expected and gardens will bounce back when rain comes again and the temperature cools.
We will continue to operate tankers in the area trying to inject water from other areas which have enough treated water into the network, but it is very complex and will mean supplies may be intermittent.
There are bottled water stations set up still today (see link below) and we have hand delivered more than 32,000 bottles across our region to our vulnerable customers that are registered on our Priority Services Register.
Please be reassured we will be organising compensation for these customers. Everyone has worked tirelessly but we haven’t been able to supply these customers just when they needed it. We are very sorry and can only reiterate that we are doing everything we can and are working 24/7 to meet the demands for water – please help us by avoiding all garden water use this week. Storms are forecast and cooler weather is on its way.
Yesterday we continued to top the 650 million litres of water supplied – this is significantly more than normal – and close to the record demand of Friday which was 696 million litres. It is vital everyone in Mid-Sussex, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent minimise their water use this week.
Details of the current bottled water stations are here - https://southeastwater.co.uk/my-water-supply/water-supply-issues-in-the-bolney-cuckfield-haywards-heath-slaugham-and-warninglid-areas
I had also raised my concern about supplies to PRH which is close to residential areas affected and have been advised that South East Water have been supporting the hospital throughout with tankers where necessary so their supply has not been effected.
Updates: 17:00 Wednesday 12th August
This issue has received a wide range of both local and national media interest and I have taken the opportunity, on behalf of Mid Sussex constituents, to link in with the following organisations - The Middy, BBC Radio Sussex, ITV Meridian, BBC South East and the Daily Mail. Below is a copy of the quote provided today to the Daily Mail.
"This has been an extremely challenging and disappointing situation for a large number of my constituents who up until yesterday evening were angry and frustrated that they had had either no or only intermittent running water supply from South East Water since Friday evening. At any time of year, but particularly in this extreme heat and with the Covid-19 situation, this has been a totally unacceptable and what I believe should have been a totally avoidable situation. These were local homes or care homes with vulnerable residents, including those who are sick, infirm and shielding as well as homes with young families, some who were potty training, and businesses including children’s nurseries. The affected Mid Sussex constituency areas of Bolney, Warninglid, Bolnore Village, Cuckfield and Whiteman’s Green, had received no prior warning of this issue, and were impacted because of a sudden increase in water demand due to the unprecedented extreme heat where demand outstripped the speed at which fresh supplies could be processed and supplied into the system. This is very much a rural area and I had also been contacted by those with livestock who were struggling to provide drinking water for their animals and for local horse yards.
Forward planning appeared absent here, bearing in mind this was not an unexpected heatwave that anyone could recognise would result in a greater demand for water on top of little or no rain for gardens and allotments since March. My team and I were in regular contact with South East Water providing updates to constituents as information became available and I have raised my specific concerns with them to ensure that lessons are learned and this situation never happens again. This area has been impacted by water issues before – the last time during the Beast from the East – this cannot, and must not, be allowed to happen again. I accept that on occasion infrastructure un-expectantly fails, this was not the case here.
Whilst South East Water report that all affected areas now have supplies this still remains a fragile balance of demand and supply so I would encourage everyone to think and act carefully, avoiding unnecessary water consumption outside of the home or their business. It’s been a shambolic 5 days for too many of my constituents and I am determined to make sure their voices are heard in the enquiry as to how this abominable situation for South East Water customers has occurred."
Where can I get more information?
- Visit the South East Water dedicated webpage
- Tune in to BBC South East Today or listen to our South East Water updates on BBC Radio Sussex.
- Residents can sign up for updates on the South East Water our live map
- Vulnerable residents can sign up to the South East Water Priority Services Register