London mayor blasts water suppliers

LONDON (Reuters): London’s mayor Sadiq Khan said on Monday it was“unacceptable” that thousands of people across the British capital were left without water after pipes burst as normal weather conditions returned following a cold snap.

The worst snowstorms in Britain for nearly 30 years froze water in pipes last week, water suppliers said, during a blast of Siberian cold dubbed“the Beast from the East” which ground planes, stopped trains, blocked roads and shut schools.

At least 23,800 households, including 12,000 households in London, were left without water when pipes burst when temperatures rose and snow thawed, prompting suppliers to advise customers not to waste water.

“It is unacceptable that thousands of Londoners remain without water this morning,” Khan said on Twitter.“I have sought assurances from Thames Water that they are doing everything possible to fix the problems and get the supply switched back on for everyone.”

At a supermarket in Balham, south London, Thames Water employees distributed crates of bottled water to a waiting queue of people, while in Hampstead to the north of the capital, they ferried crates to residential streets in their own cars.

Suppliers warned disruption would continue as they worked to fix leaks and refill pipes and Thames Water advised its 15 million customers to cut their usage.

“Where possible, take short showers rather than baths, do not leave taps running unnecessarily and only run washing machines and dish washers when you have a full load,” the company said in a statement on its website.

Severn Trent, a supplier of water to 4.3 million homes and businesses in the middle of England, said the number of burst pipes was up 4000 percent, while in Wales, Welsh Water said“unprecedented challenges” had affected 4,500 homes.

Farther north, Scottish Water said there was no significant impact on its customers because Scotland had not suffered the same rapid thaw.