Shropshire Star

Telford homes still without water as burst pipe causes chaos

More than 24,000 litres of bottled water has been sent to Telford as heavy rain continues to hamper repair work.

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A tanker injects water into pipes in Ironbridge in an attempt to keep homes supplied

Thousands of people are still without running water after one of the biggest pipes supplying Telford burst.

About 20,000 homes and businesses are believed to have been affected by the burst, which has left much of the Telford area south of the M54 with either no water, low pressure or a murky supply for more than 18 hours.

Crowds at Tesco car park in Madeley, where bottled water is being given out. Photo: Andy Silman

At least 8,000 of Severn Trent's customers now have running water again, but the company has warned that the dangerous nature of the repair work means it could be some time until normal supply is returned.

In an update at 8.10pm on Sunday, Severn Trent said that heavy rain had delayed repairs further and said that some homes in Much Wenlock may now have low pressure or no water.

Workers had to carefully drill through a layer of concrete to avoid a high-pressure gas main and reach the 21-inch pipe, which burst in the Bishopdale area of Brookside at around 4am.

A section of the pipe is cracked, meaning it needs to be cut out and replaced before water can be pumped back through the network.

Severn Trent - which has been updating customers by phone, text and social media - moved water around its network and sent 16 tankers to inject water directly into the pipes in a bid to keep people supplied.

Severn Trent sent 16 water tankers to help with supply while the burst pipe is repaired

The TF7 postcode around Madeley is the worst affected area, but there have also been issues in TF3, TF4 and TF8, while some tap water in Shifnal has also turned murky as a result of the change in flow around the pipes.

The Abraham Darby Sports and Leisure Centre had to close as a result.

There were large queues for bottled water, after collection points were organised at the Tesco car park in Madeley and the Museum of the Gorge car park in Ironbridge on Sunday afternoon.

So far 18,000 litres have been delivered to Madeley, where Tesco temporarily sold out of bottled water earlier in the day, while 6,000 litres have been sent to Ironbridge.

More supplies were expected later in the evening, with the collection points set to stay open until at least 10pm.

Water had already been provided to local care homes and priority customers, such as those with disabilities, a Severn Trent spokesman said.

Spokesman Jonathan Smith explained the difficulty of accessing the pipe: "Before we can start to dig, we're having to cut back nearby trees and are also working with Cadent as the pipe is next to one of their high pressure gas mains.

"We have to be very careful when we start to dig to make sure that we don't cause any more problems."

As a result Severn Trent is still unable to give an estimated time for the repair work to be completed.

Mr Smith reassured residents that the murky water is safe to drink and warned that the work may result in lower pressure than usual for other customers.

"While we've had some success with getting customers back on by moving water around our pipes in a different way to normal, and by using a fleet of 16 tankers to inject water directly into our network, we have to be careful doing that to minimise the risk of causing issues with the network as a whole," he added.

"Our call centre teams are working hard to answer everyone's calls but volumes are quite high at the moment so it may take longer than normal for us to answer.

"Our headquarters teams have also been in touch with our priority customers, who might not be able to get out to the shops or who might need water to live, to make sure they have all the water they need.

"We know how important it is to have water, especially when everyone's at home over the weekend, and we're doing everything we can to get things back to normal as quickly as possible."