Cancer survivor with ileostomy bag left without running water in Surrey

Residents reported brown water which Thames Water insisted was safe to drink after fixing the problem

Alexander Butler
Tuesday 07 November 2023 06:05 GMT
<p>Residents of Godalming, Surrey, collect bottles of water after Storm Ciarán left the town without running water</p>

Residents of Godalming, Surrey, collect bottles of water after Storm Ciarán left the town without running water

A woman who recently recovered from bowel cancer was forced to change her ileostomy bag “several times” a day after thousands of people were left without water when a major incident was declared following Storm Ciarán over the weekend.

Up to 12,000 residents in Guildford and Godalming, Surrey, were left without clean water and “no updates” after the storm caused problems at a Thames Water treatment plant.

Although the firm said it had now fixed the problem, residents reported water coming through as “dirty” and “brown” which Thames Water insisted was “still safe to drink”.

Rebecca, who recently suffered from bowel cancer, said it was “frustrating” to have no updates from the firm while having to empty her ileostomy bag so many times due to no running water.

“We had no warning that the water was going to be off. The first sign was water bottles left on our doorstep. We have had no email, phone or text message updates from Thames Water.

“A text message a day would have been easy to do on their part, to keep customers updated. It was frustrating having to empty my bag several times a day,” she told The Independent.

The supplier said it had given out nearly half a million litres of bottled water as it tried to resolve the issue and reconnect customers.

Waverley Borough Council leader Paul Follows also criticised the firm for lack of communication and said trying to get basic information on the situation had been a “challenge”.

“We’ve had almost no communications from Thames Water right from the start, so just actually trying to get basic information about what the problem is, how they’re resolving it and when it will be resolved, that has actually been the challenge,” he told BBCBreakfast.

Jeremy Hunt, who is MP for South West Surrey which includes Godalming and the surrounding villages among the affected areas, said he was “very concerned” about the situation and tweeted that he would talk to a Thames Water executive.

Residents of Godalming, Surrey, collect bottles of water after Storm Ciarán left the town without running water

After speaking to Alastair Cochran, Thames Water’s interim co-chief executive and chief financial officer, Mr Hunt posted a message on X, formerly Twitter, which said the firm was “resetting and reprogramming” the control system.

The Chancellor later tweeted that the firm was “tankering water to ensure that they can support hospitals and bottled water stations remain open”.

It comes after residents of Streatham, London, said they have had “no further communication” with Thames Water since Tuesday after up to 15 flats have been without running water since last Monday.

Jayesh Shah, who lives in the apartment block, said he was left without water and no updates from the firm after it inspected his property and told him it was either fixed or an “internal” issue to be solved privately.

“We have had no further direct communications from Thames Water. This includes no text updates since the one received on Tuesday saying things were fixed and saying it was not their responsibility,” Mr Shah told The Independent.

A Surrey resident collects bottled water amid shortages caused by Storm Ciarán

A Thames Water spokesperson said: “Shalford water treatment works is now back online, following issues caused by Storm Ciaran. We need to refill underground reservoirs which have run very low. We’d like to thank our customers for their patience during this time.

“We’re very sorry to residents who are still experiencing no water or low pressure. Tankers remain in the area to pump water into the local supply network and we continue to deliver bottled water to customers who are on our priority services register.”

The company is looking into claims made by residents of Streatham, London, a spokesperson said.

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