More than 32,000 properties still without water in Sussex

By John Mercury May 6, 2024

Water is “gradually being restored” to 32,500 properties in East Sussex that have been without water for four days following a burst pipe in remote woodlands.

Southern Water said the problem had now been fixed but it would take “some time” to restore supply for everyone affected.

It said St Leonards on Sea and Hastings residents are “gradually” getting their water back – but 3,500 homes in the east of Hastings will temporarily lose supply on Sunday to preserve water for the part of the town including the hospital as the rest of the network is “recharged”.

“Once the water has passed stringent quality tests, supplies will start to return for customers,” it added.

Four bottle stations have been set up in the area, as households and businesses expressed anger at the length of the outage.

Southern Water has said it’s “very sorry” and teams are delivering water to more than 6,000 vulnerable customers.

However, one woman who lives in sheltered accommodation told Sky News her water had been stolen from the car park.

“People were coming from outside and stopping their cars, running in and grabbing the water and took off,” said the woman – who didn’t give her name.

This woman told Sky News that her bottled water had been stolen
This woman told Sky News her bottled water had been stolen

Bottled water stations as Hastings and St Leonards face a lack of water due to a burst pipe. Pic: Southern Water
Pic: Southern Water

Other vulnerable customers have said supplies have not been delivered as promised.

Fixing the pipe was tricky because it was in a remote location in dense woodland, according to the water firm – which said people would be compensated in a “fair and proportionate way”.

Repair efforts have been complicated by the damaged pipe being amidst woodland. Pic: Southern Water
Repair efforts have been complicated by the damaged pipe being in dense woodland. Pic: Southern Water

The outage began on Thursday and forced some schools to close, as well as businesses such as Hastings’ White Rock Theatre.

East Sussex county councillor Godfrey Daniel said the effect on businesses would be “drastic” and one hotel was having to flush toilets with seawater.

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Festival chairman Stuart Ledger said the water was out on one of the busiest weekends for Hastings
Festival chairman Stuart Ledger said the water was out on one of the busiest weekends

Hastings’ Jack In The Green Festival takes place this weekend, as does the May Day Bike Run, bringing thousands to the area.

Festival chairman Keith Leech said it was the latest in a catalogue of errors by Southern Water.

He told Sky News: “This year Southern Water has managed to completely close our beach because it was covered in sewage.

“They’ve managed to flood our town centre because they couldn’t deal with the water that was coming through, and now they’ve managed to completely cut us off from water on the biggest weekend of the year.”

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Southern Water’s finance chief, Stuart Ledger, said the company was not currently making a profit and is “investing everything into the network”.

The outage comes amid renewed scrutiny on water companies due to recent sewage releases into the sea and rivers, as well as the dire financial situation at Thames Water, the nation’s biggest supplier.


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