'Get your act together, enough is enough' - Wealden MP calls for action as water crisis continues

Credit: PA / ITV Meridian
Nusrat Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden in East Sussex said she is 'putting pressure' on South East Water, as taps ran dry for thousands in the county. Credit: PA / ITV Meridian

An MP has hit out at a water company saying "please get your act together, enough is enough" after the district faces a second day with low to no water pressure.

Nusrat Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden in East Sussex, said she is "putting pressure" on South East Water, as taps ran dry for thousands in many more towns and villages in Kent and Sussex.

The water company says there have been a series of pipe bursts and it cannot treat and supply water fast enough to meet peak demand amidst a heatwave.

Ms Ghani says it should have been better prepared after 15,000 South East Water customers were without supplies or had low pressure in December 2022 - with many people in Staplehurst in Kent having no running water on Christmas Day.

Ms Ghani said: "We're in a cycle of outages and compensation. We had this disastrous Christmas and now we've got issues across my constituency all because it's hot.

"There's no resilience in the water supply system. It's a nightmare. My message is please get your act together, enough is enough."

A number have schools have also been forced to close for a consecutive third day as well.

Ms Ghani continued: "It's been four days [of hot weather] and we're already at crisis point. I spoke to South East Water repeatedly and over 24 hours ago - I said 'Please put in a hose pipe ban'.

"I said 'Do what you've got to do, because if that means there's more water in the system' but they haven't even done that."

"We shouldn't have intermittent water services because South East Water cannot cope with a few hot days."

Areas like Tunbridge Wells, Wadhurst, Cranbrook, Mayfield, Rotherfield and Biddenden are all experiencing no or intermittent water pressure.

Three bottled water stations have been set up in Wadhurst, Mayfield and Rotherfield.

But Ms Ghani added there were problems there, saying: "They've also got these water bottle stations that we have fought for and they're not manned, not enough information goes out when the water bottles are made available.

"[My constituents] are worried. All I can say is, I feel your pain, I'm doing everything I can to put pressure on the water company.

"I've asked them to deal with this crisis. Having had one just six months ago - we should not be here again.

"I'm doing the best that I can to get South East Water to get the water up and running. I'm also reaching out to Wealden District Council to work with South East Water."

South East Water said it has delivered water to over 300 hundred homes that are on its "at-risk" list.

In response to Ms Ghani's comments, a spokesperson for South East Water said: "There is resilience in the SE Water supply system. Typically we hold about 1 day’s drinking water in our storage tanks that are located across the region.

"Every day we treat and pump on average 540 million litres of water a day, but on Saturday we treated and pumped 678 million litres of water.

"Due to temperatures soaring across our region in recent days, and the prolonged dry weather we’ve experienced for the last 6 weeks, we’re having to pump much more drinking water to customer taps than normal.

"We have sent updates to all stakeholders across Sussex through the week and Tanya Sephton, Customer Service Director at South East Water spoke with Nusrat Ghani earlier in the week to explain the situation.

"We are unaware of who Nusrat Ghani has asked at SEW to put a hosepipe ban in place.

"The Wadhurst station was initially unmanned but has now been manned to the high level of demand in the area. All information regarding bottled water stations is on our website and posted on social media. We also update stakeholders by email of their availability."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...