‘Major incident’ declared in Surrey as thousands lose water supply and supermarkets sell out

A major incident has been declared as thousands of people have been left without water due to “ongoing problems” at a Thames Water treatment works.

The water company says engineers are working to restore supplies to those living in Surrey after Storm Ciaran caused issues at Shalford water treatment works.

The firm has apologised to customers, who lost their water supply on Saturday afternoon.

During the shortage, the company is providing bottled water at several locations. Pictures shared on social media show long queues at the sites, which include Godalming Crown Court car park and Artington Park & Ride.

Meanwhile, nearby supermarkets have said people were panic buying bottled water. Waitrose in Godalming said it had sold out of bottled water, according to the BBC.

Chancellor and local MP Jeremy Hunt said the CEO of Thames Water had told him around 13,500 customers were without supply, and a further 6,500 were set to lose supply shortly in a post on X at 3.18pm.

He added: “The site controls at Shalford Water Treatment Works have been reset and they’re testing turbidity at low water production volumes. If this is successful, they can increase production to a level that will restore supply.

“Thames Water are tankering water to ensure that they can support hospitals and bottled water stations remain open.”

A statement from Thames Water on X read: “We’re really sorry about the ongoing problems. Our engineers are still working to restore supplies to the area. In the meantime we’ll continue running our bottled water stations. We’re also using tankers to pump water into the pipe system.

“Storm Ciaran has caused issues at Shalford Water Treatment Works, affecting local supplies. There’s bottled water at Crown Court Car Park, The Burys, Godalming, and at Artington Park & Ride, Old Portsmouth Road, Guildford.”

Surrey County Council has confirmed a major incident had been declared in the area. Leader Tim Oliver said: “Surrey County Council is continuing to work with partners across the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), following notification from Thames Water of a water shortage in the Guildford/Waverley areas.

“This has been declared a major incident by the LRF. All partners will continue to work closely with Thames Water, who are the lead agency in this incident, to inform and support residents in these areas, particularly those most vulnerable.”