British floods threaten water supplies

British water utility Severn Trent pleaded with customers living in central England on Sunday to use water carefully after one of its treatment works had to be shut down due to flooding after torrential rain.

British floods threaten water supplies
British water utility Severn Trent pleaded with customers living in central England on Sunday to use water carefully after one of its treatment works had to be shut down due to flooding after torrential rain.

The company's Mythe Water Treatment Works in Tewkesbury, which also serves the towns of Gloucester and Cheltenham, was submerged by rising flood water and was evacuated in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"We're urgently appealing to customers to use water sparingly and, in that way, help one another to make the remaining supplies last longer," Severn Trent's director of water services Andy Smith said in a statement.

Smith predicted the water shortage problem was unlikely to be resolved before Wednesday.

"We must wait for the flood water to subside before we can begin to assess the damage done to equipment and machinery. Even when we are able to restart the works, it will take some time for the network and water supplies to return to normal.

"We're arranging for mini water tankers to be delivered to various sites across the towns affected to ensure that customers have access to water whilst we deal with the incident."

In southeast London 175,000 people were warned to boil their tap water after Friday's torrential rain caused flooding at Sutton and East Surrey Water's Cheam treatment plant and affected the water supply.

The Environment Agency issued seven severe flood warnings on Sunday with large parts of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire remaining underwater as more than 1,000 people had to spend a second night in emergency shelters.

The Environment Agency has been criticised for its speed of response to the floods, but Environment Secretary Hilary Benn praised the public body's work as well as the efforts of the emergency services.

"We just have to recognise the intensity of the volume of water that's come down and that has resulted in flooding that, even with the best defences in the world, would in some cases have been overtopped," Benn told the BBC.

"The Environment Agency are doing a good job but we need to recognise the scale of the emergency that they are having to cope with, as are local authorities and the fire services."

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Temmuz 2007, 17:01
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