After nearly 24 hours of no water and minimal communication from supplier Thames Water, (most) residents of Manton and to the West now have water running out of their taps again.
Since yesterday (Thursday 4 November) morning, residents haven’t been able to wash, flush toilets, clean anything – or even put the kettle on for a cup of tea. Glass of water? OK, if you’ve already a stock of bottled water.
Thames Water did send out a short and cursory text to some in the area stating that ‘Our engineers need to carry out an emergency repair’, adding that ‘You may temporarily have no water / low pressure during this time’. Of course, they did add the word ‘apologise’.
At about the same time as the water went off, there was a major crash on the A4 near to the Clatford turning. Related? Quite possibly, or likely.
Reports indicate that a car towing a boat aquaplaned on water from a leaking water main, which caused the car/trailer to jack-knife and crash into several other cars. This closed the A4 for some extended period yesterday and bus services stopped and residents trying to get into Marlborough had to take long and difficult alternate routes.
What caused this water main failure? No idea, Thames Water have been, as ever impenetrable when it comes to getting information about anything. Residents who were calling to find what had happened yesterday were kept holding for very long periods, 30 mins or more seems to be the norm at the end of which, if they actually did get through, weren’t told anything more than was contained in the cursory text.
Whilst we should all thank the Water engineers who were out through the day and night repairing the burst main, this episode does bring into question the attitude and actions of Thames Water to their customer base.
Recently it was about the Sewage Discharges into the Kennet, making what was once one of the UK’s pure and sparkling chalk streams into – for much of the time – what could easily be described as a toxic sewer. With the inherent danger of disease for anyone who falls in.
The Times recently (on 30 October) reported on the state of the Water Companies across the country. The issue here, and it would seem everywhere else is of lack of investment. The report noted that the (nine) Water Companies – in total across the UK had agreed to invest over £1bn ‘to improve storm overflows’ over the next five years.
But the same report also stated that since 2010, the Water Companies in total had returned more than £15bn in dividends to their shareholders. The report also highlighted the massive salaries paid to senior Water Co Executives, with ‘Brandon Rennet, the chief financial officer at Thames Water, earned £1.21 million last year and Sarah Bentley, the company’s new chief executive, made £1.23 million’.
So, whilst the owners make an excellent return on investment and senior management earn large returns for managing a non-competitive monopoly organisation, it is to those to whom these organisations owe the real duty of care – i.e. the residents/users in the area who have no opportunity to change – who just are forced to pay what their Water Company demands, whilst putting up with an increasingly sub-standard level of service (toxicity of rivers, water supply inconsistencies etc.). We pay, they play…..