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Consumers in Wales 'badly let down' following disruption to water supply after Beast from the East

Credit: PA

Consumers in Wales felt 'badly let down' after thousands of homes were left without water following the Beast from the East, according to the Consumer Council for Water.

They found that a lack of emergency water supplies and poor communication from some water companies made life 'needlessly more difficult' for those left without water.

More than 20,000 customers across England and Wales were without water for four hours or longer. The study also found that three quarters of households and businesses did not receive any alternative emergency supplies of water.

The water watchdog is now calling for companies to act on its findings and improve communication with customers.

The most affected consumers felt badly let down by their water company, with little or no information and in many cases insufficient alternative supplies of water even for the most vulnerable households."

As well as good compensation, consumers will want to see companies heavily penalised if they don't act now to put these failures right.

– Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water

Welsh Water said the scale of the Beast from the East was 'unprecedented'

We are analysing the findings of the reports published today and are considering how we can best respond to the issues raised to further improve in future.

The scale of the issues we faced during Storm Emma, combined with the effect of the "Beast from the East", was unprecedented - with our operating area at the centre of the Met Office's 'red' weather warning. Extreme snowfall, high winds, and a rapid thaw led to enormous challenges as we tried to maintain our services to support affected customers. Accessing our sites was extremely difficult, at the same time as managing a record number of bursts on our network and at on customers' properties.

Despite these challenges, and thanks to the heroic efforts of colleagues who worked around the clock throughout the period, we were able to maintain water supplies to around 99% of our customers throughout the period. Independent research carried out with affected customers after the incident showed 70% were satisfied with how we responded, versus 10% who were not.

However, we always consider how we can do things better and have identified areas where we could improve. We are already investing to improve the resilience of our water network to further protect customers' supplies and will redouble our efforts to identify and help even more of our vulnerable customers. We want to apologise again to all customers who experienced disruption to their water supplies and assure them that we will work with local communities, the regulators and the wider water industry to learn lessons so that we are better prepared for similar events in future.

– Welsh Water spokesperson