November 30, 2023

Thousands of people have been left without water after Storm Ciarán caused problems at a treatment works in Surrey, Thames Water has said.

A major incident was declared as at least 13,500 homes in Guildford, Godalming and the surrounding areas were left without water or with low pressure by 2.50pm on Sunday, while a further 6,500 were expected to lose supply later in the day.

Thames Water said in a statement: “We’re really sorry about the continuing water supply problems in GU1, GU2, GU3, GU5, GU6, GU7 and GU8. This follows issues caused by Storm Ciarán at Shalford water treatment works.”

The company added: “Our engineers remain on site, working hard to get things back to normal. We’re also using tankers to pump water into our supply network. We know how worrying and inconvenient this is and thank you for your patience.”

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor and MP for South West Surrey, said in a social media post that he was “very concerned” about the situation and would talk to a Thames Water executive.

Surrey county council (SCC) told those affected to head to water stations set up by Thames Water at the crown court in Godalming but they were reportedly faced with long queues, the PA news agency reported. Bottled water stations were also set up at Artington park and ride in Guildford.

After speaking to Alastair Cochran, Thames Water’s interim co-chief executive and chief financial officer, Hunt posted a message on X, formerly Twitter, which said the company was “resetting and reprogramming” the control system.

He added: “If successful they will be able to restore supply to affected customers. Artington now open for water supply so that should relieve congestion.

Shalford treatment works back online soon.
Thames Water is hoping to bring Shalford treatment works back online soon. Photograph: Gillian Pullinger/Alamy

“Good that SCC have now declared this a major incident. Next question is what the impact will be on schools tomorrow if it is not resolved. Also getting messages from pubs that have lost trade from closing on a busy day – big, big impact on many people.”

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He later tweeted that Thames Water was “tankering water to ensure that they can support hospitals and bottled water stations remain open”.

Hunt tweeted later on Sunday that Thames Water was hoping to bring Shalford treatment works back online, as they had identified the cause of the problem, adding: “They have significantly reduced water turbidity and are hopeful that the alarms will not trip once it has gone through.”

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