Water problems cause distress across Heathfield area

5th March

Road damage in Sussex

Partial closure of B2203 just after Tubwell Lane, due to damaged road. Police were on the scene. Photo courtesy of Nick Fontana

Many homes in and around the Heathfield area have been affected by water problems since Sunday after a number of pipes burst during the thaw. At 3.30pm on Monday some were still without water.

Cross-in-Hand mum of three Sarah Jones was one of those affected. She said: “Our mains water stopped on Sunday morning. Since then we haven’t been able to shower, flush loos, put the dishwasher on or the washing machine. But, most importantly, there has been no drinking water. Supermarkets in Heathfield had empty water bottle shelves yesterday afternoon and at 6.30 am at the Co-op this morning there was no water. We’ve managed to get some small bottles of water which will last us until we can get hold of some more.”

Skippers Hill Manor School in Five Ashes is one of several schools that have been unable to open. On their Facebook page they said:  “We have had no water supply at Skippers for 24 hours now. As this means no drinking water, no toilet facilities, catering or heating, we are sadly unable to open today.”

Other school closures on Monday include Five Ashes Church of England Primary School, Mayfield Church of England Primary School, St Mark’s Church of England Primary School and Hadlow Down. Little Tinkers Nursery School in Mayfield was also closed on Monday.

For a full list of school closures go to https://apps.eastsussex.gov.uk/educationandlearning/schools/schoolclosures/

Sally Ann Bale of Ghyll Park Equestrian near Mayfield rang Southern Water at 6.30am on Sunday in desperation as she had 42 horses who needed water. “I was told I wasn’t a priority and to let the horses out into a field so they could eat snow! Horses need two gallon buckets of water each a day.

“Luckily a local lady brought a bowser of water to us yesterday and a client has brought some over today

but we need much more. We called the Fire Service and they can’t help. The water companies really should have something in place for farmers.”

Dirty clothes

Piled up washing in Cross in Hand

At 3pm on Monday Sally still didn’t have any water for her horses.

Locals on the Heathfield Community Facebook page have rallied around offering help to each other and sharing information about the water situation. Administrator Tom Sutton said: “I just thought I would say a thank you to those that offered help to others. Great to see community spirit.”

South East Water is asking its customers for help in reducing demand on its network as it battles to resolve supply issues caused by the bad weather and subsequent thaw.

Overnight the company has found and fixed leaks and bursts across its 9,000 miles of water mains, and has taken staff off normal duties to concentrate all efforts on the task, as well as getting bottled water out to those areas which need it.

Some areas of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire have ongoing problems with no water or low pressure and some customers may find their supplies come and go throughout the day as the company juggles the water available.

South East Water’s Operations Director Dr Simon Earl said: “We are very sorry to our customers who are without water. This is clearly a difficult time for those customers who have been without tap water for some time now.

“We are doing everything we can in this unprecedented situation and have crews out around the clock trying to locate and repair the leaks and bursts which are causing substantial problems across a wide area. We have drafted in additional staff and contractors and are diverting others from non-operational roles to help with this emergency.

“To help us further we would ask our customers who do have water to only use water for the essentials. Where possible, take short showers rather than baths, do not leave taps running unnecessarily and only run washing machines and dishwashers when you have a full load. If possible, avoid using appliances at the peak times of 7am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm. This will make a real difference.”

Bottled water stations have been set up in the worst affected areas and supplies to them are being topped up as quickly as possible. To help maintain bottled water supplies and to make sure there is sufficient for everyone, South East Water is asking customers to only take as much as they need at any one time.

Simon continued: “Unfortunately we are unable to say at this stage when supplies will return to normal. It is a constantly changing picture in very challenging circumstances beyond our control. All our teams are working 24 hours a day responding to a very fast moving situation and will continue to do so until the situation is resolved. We would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding.”

Customers are also asked to check their own pipes for bursts and call a plumber if necessary. Anyone responsible for commercial premises, which may not have been visited since the thaw started, should make sure their pipes have not been damaged.

Burst water main

Cole MacKenzie, 12, outside a burst pipe near Tidebrook. Photo courtesy Graham MacKenzie.

For more ways to save water go to https://www.southeastwater.co.uk/my-water-supply/water-saving-tips

Updates are available on the South East Water website at https://inyourarea.digdat.co.uk/southeastwater?pc=