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30,000 West Sussex residents left without water
More than 30,000 residents were left without water after the dry weather cracked a giant pipe under one of Sussex’s busiest roads.
Water was cut to 15,000 homes for up to seven hours on one of the hottest days of the year after the main burst at the side of the A259.
The water shortage and repair operation also shut a dozen schools, caused miles of tailbacks and led to residents rushing out to panic-buy bottles of water.
Southern Water continues to investigate the incident but it is believed the crack could have occurred because water mains move when a dry period follows a wet one.
The incident was first reported at 5.30am yesterday when water began cascading from a water main at the roadside of the A259 in Ferring.
Southern Water engineers were able to staunch the flow within an hour and by 8.30am had restored supply to 12,000 homes across Ferring, Goring, Durrington and West Worthing.
The remaining 3,000 homes had their water restored by about 12.30pm although repairs continued until 5pm when the eastbound carriage of the A259 between Titnore Lane and the A280 Angmering Bypass was finally reopened after almost 12 hours.
In total, 15 engineers were working on the incident throughout the day while staff from the water firm handed out 1,500 two litre bottles of water.
Residents were also able to collect free water from Asda in Littlehampton Road, Ferring.
Wayne Thurston, 43, was cycling from his home in Loder Gardens, Worthing, to Angmering railway station at just before 5.30am when he saw water cascading across the A259 and immediately called the police.
He said: “I couldn't believe what I saw – the amount of water pouring onto the A259 and seeing the whole carriageway flooded from Asda Supermarket to Highdown Towers Hotel.
“There were vans with water halfway up their wheels and the vans that were hitting it took a bit of a shock and were aquaplaning.
“A couple of motorcycles had to go up on the grass verge just to get around it.”
Mother-of-three Colleen Enticott, 27, from Newtimber Avenue in Goring, was one of the thousands affected.
She said: “My husband had to rush out to buy some bottles of water because I am bottle feeding my three-month-old boy and there was lots of people rushing out to buy water.
“My middle son just started potty training and I have had to tell him not to flush the toilet and it’s a bit difficult for him to understand.”
Some residents criticised the water firm for failing to keep them informed when water might be restored.
University of Sussex employee Jane Langley said: “Southern Water has been singularly useless in providing information.
“Not being able to supply water is a problem that sometimes occurs, not providing information is unforgivable.
“People have to be able to make decisions about their own lives and on behalf of their dependants.”
Trevor Clark, Southern Water’s head of water supply, said: “The main has now been recharged and is back in action serving homes across Ferring, Goring, Durrington and West Worthing.
“We called back customers who had no water yesterday morning and everyone said their supplies had returned.
“We are grateful to our customers for their patience while the repairs were under way, especially on a hot day.”
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