Thousands of homes in south east England could survive Christmas without running water after freezing temperatures caused pipes to burst.
Water companies are working to get tens of thousands of homes across much of Sussex, Kent and Hampshire back on by the weekend.
Companies said the rapid thaw of frozen pipes had increased the number of cracks and leaks in the underground network of pipes, causing storage reservoir levels to drop after temperatures dipped below zero.
South East Water said it is ‘committed to getting its customers who are currently without water back on the water by Christmas Day, if not sooner’.
The company said there was a 300% increase in the number of bursts, and CEO David Hinton said about 5,000 properties were still affected as of Wednesday.
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Southern Water said in a statement: ‘We are currently facing significant strain on our water supply in parts of Hampshire, caused by a combination of factors, including leaks following the recent ‘freeze/thaw’ event.
‘As a result, the demand for water exceeds the capacity of our water treatment plants to run the taps.
“We are working as hard as we can to fix this problem, address leaks and stabilize supply, but we also have to make tough decisions to reduce demand – to protect critical Hampshire infrastructure such as hospitals.
“As a result, we unfortunately have to restrict the water supply to some customers in parts of Hampshire for a minimum period of 48 hours.”
Both water companies apologized for the outage.
Emergency supplies of bottled water have been delivered to cities and towns.
Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, tweeted: ‘I have asked Southern Water to set up a bottled water station in Southampton – unacceptable that the nearest is the park and ride in Winchester.
“I appreciate that the network is under extreme pressure, but residents who rely on public transport will not be able to get into Winchester tonight.”
Mr Hinton said in a statement: ‘Our teams are working diligently to locate, repair and repair the leaks in our pipes, but we are also asking customers to help by checking their homes, businesses, vacant properties, outdoor taps and troughs. to check. fields for leaks and have them repaired as soon as possible.
“Property leaks can cause major damage that can be costly to repair.”
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