With 10,000 homes in London estimated to be without water, Lambeth councillors Mohammed Seedat and Jennifer Brathwaite have written to the Secretary of State to urge him to investigate Thames Water's management of London's water network:
Dear Secretary of State,
Over the past 3 years, several major water & sewage leaks have caused severe disruption to residents in Streatham.
These leaks have led to homes being flooded, roads and school being closed and residents forced to endure the indignity of living for days without being able to wash, while living in un-heated homes during the coldest spring in many years.
The water network is the responsibility of Thames Water. A further serious incident this weekend has left thousands of residents in Streatham without running water once again – Thames Water’s assesment of 12,000 affected homes across London is likely an under-estimate. Residents are having to rely on bottled water, which is being made available at 2 collection points both of which are over a mile away from the most severely affected areas. A reliable estimate for when the repairs will be completed has still not being provided by the company.
In 2017 we organised a public meeting in Lambeth so residents could question representatives from Thames Water after a series of catastrophic floods due to severe trunk bursts. Following this, the council's scrutiny committee produced a joint report with 3 other London boroughs looking at the underlying causes of the flooding and the effectiveness of Thames Water’s response. The report was critical of the management of the network and made a number of recommendations, including the need for better emergency response arrangements and the need for an ‘improved and joined up monitoring system for detecting the likelihood of bursts’. Thames Water’s own review, the Cuttill report also made recommendations about addressing weaknesses in maintenance programmes.
This weekend demonstrated again how Thames Water has failed to address these shortcomings. A company that posted a record £638m pre-tax profit last year should be duty-bound to ensure that the most basic human right – that households have access to running water – is fulfilled.
The Government must take action to ensure that this situation does not happen again. I urge you to call an immediate inquiry into Thames Water’s handling of the situation and into their suitability to operate the water network.
Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Cabinet Member for Housing & Environment
Councillor Mohammed Seedat, Cabinet Member for Healthier & Stronger Communities (Emergency Planning Lead)