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Taps run dry for up to five days as sprinklers and paddling pools blamed for water shortage

By Andrew Turton | Much Wenlock | Environment | Published:

Homes face more water shortages today as the taps ran dry as Severn Trent blamed sprinklers and pressure washers for hitting supplies.

Spinklers have been blamed for hitting water supplies in parts of the West Midlands

Dozens of customers took to Twitter to complain that homes had been without water or had intermittent supplies for five days in parts of the West Midlands.

Bottled water was handed handed out to vulnerable people over the weekend, some of which still face staying at home due to coronavirus health concerns.

Meanwhile tankers providing extra water supplies were brought into some streets to help people amid warm, sunny weather in recent days.

Severn Trent apologised to customers, saying supplies had been hit by a "incredibly high demand" leading to low pressure problems.

The water company said increased use of hose pipes, pressure washers, paddling pools and sprinkler systems could be behind the high demand.

Essington Medical Practice, in Essington, near Wolverhampton, was forced to close today as it had no water supply.

Staff had to relocate to its Cannock Road Medical Practice to allow them to continue to operate safely.

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Homes in Bushbury, Wolverhampton, were supplied by a water tanker along with people with living in parts of Much Wenlock in Shropshire.

Other areas around Wolverhampton including Essington and Featherstone have also reportedly experienced problems.

One Featherstone resident complained of no water for 13 hours while another said they had had issues for five days.

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Twitter user Hannah told Severn Trent: "Five days in a row we have had water supply issues in Featherstone with about as many excuses.

"Absolutely shocking service and inconsistent communication.

Matthew Hand also tweeted: "Day five of water issues in WV11, now during the day. Not just urgent but now dangerous."

Wolverhampton North East MP Jane Stevenson said she wants the existing infrastructure to be looked at, to make sure that similar water supply issues do not happen again in future.

She said: “I am very concerned about the water supply problems that many of my constituents have experienced over recent days.

"With vulnerable and elderly residents continuing to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak, it is absolutely vital that they have access to a steady supply of water.

“I have spoken to Severn Trent several times, who inform me that the problems are due to an increase in demand.

"But with summer fast approaching, I want to make sure that these problems are resolved quickly, and compensation to affected customers should be considered.

“I have now raised this with the Environment Secretary, who has promised to investigate the situation and work with Severn Trent to resolve these problems. Anybody who is affected and urgently needs water can register with Severn Trent to receive bottled water delivered to their home.”

Willenhall has also reportedly been affected, and low water pressure has been reported in Penn and Tettenhall.

Severn Trent has attributed the increased demand in water to the continued use of devices such as pressure washers and sprinklers during the recent hot weather.

Demand for water in the area covered by the company has reportedly been around 300 million litres more this week than last week, with Friday seeing almost the highest ever level of recorded usage.

A spokesperson said: "Yesterday was another day of incredibly high demand for treated water across pretty much the entire area we cover, almost reaching our highest ever level and finishing at 2.275 billion litres of water.

"Our treatment works had a record day of production, working pretty much flat out to keep up with demand as customers use the water as soon as we can produce it.

"We’re seeing low pressure and/or no supply in a number of areas as customers continue to use high-use gadgets like pressure washers and sprinklers, causing demand to be around 300 million litres more than last week."

Severn Trent says demand has increased with gardeners watering their plants

Today the firm added: "We’d like to apologise to any customers in parts of Wolverhampton and into pockets of Shropshire who’ve been seeing some low pressure or even no supply at certain times of the day.

"The issues tend to be short-lived, usually at times of peak demand, and we’ve ramped up production of treated water to record levels in response but we’d love it if everyone could ditch the sprinklers and the pressure washers to make sure there’s enough water for the great hygiene we all need at the moment, and for drinking and flushing toilets."

Severn Trent was unable to tell the Star how many homes had been affected by the water supply problems.

Today gardeners were urged to avoid using sprinklers in the evening as dry weather and the lockdown continue to drive high demand.

The call by industry body Water UK comes after what is expected to be the driest May for England since 1896, with official figures published by the Met Office later on Monday.

Forecasters say the weekend’s sunny weather, which saw crowds of people flock to beaches and beauty spots across England ahead of lockdown restrictions being eased on Monday, will continue until midweek.

Water UK said there was no shortage of water, but everyone using more at the same time as they enjoy the sunny weather outdoors can lead to lower water pressure, which affects how well it flows out of taps.

Water companies have seen a huge rise in demand for water from households, particularly in the evenings, with use up 20% and some areas seeing peak demand of up to 40% above normal for the time of year.

The combination of lockdown, which has kept people at home, and the sunny, dry weather is pushing up demand from households using water in the garden.

If gardeners anxious to maintain lawns and flowerbeds in the dry weather can avoid using a garden sprinkler at peak demand time in the evening, it would make a big difference to water pressure, Water UK said.

Other simple steps to reduce water use include taking shorter showers, making sure the dishwasher is full and on an eco-setting before running it through, and reusing paddling pool water on the flowerbeds.

But the industry body stressed people should keep following the guidance on protecting their health during the pandemic, by making sure they wash their hands regularly.

And after a wet winter, there are good supplies of water in reservoirs and there are currently no plans for hosepipe bans in the UK, Water UK said.

Water UK chief executive Christine McGourty said: “It’s a great time to be out in the sunshine if you can, but this record sunny weather is bringing record peak demands for water.

“Just small changes through the day will make all the difference, and there are plenty more tips on staying wise about water in these unprecedented times.

“The less water we use at peak times, the less likely it is that water will be ‘under pressure’.”

Andrew Turton

By Andrew Turton
Digital Journalist

Digital journalist based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton. Interested in breaking news and social media. Get in touch on Twitter @aturton_star or andrew.turton@expressandstar.co.uk

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