Millions of people living in the south-east of England could be left without water as a result of the Beast from the East cold snap that hit the country earlier this month.

Freezing weather conditions froze many pipes, and when water freezes it expands resulting in pipes bursting. As the ice thawed, water starting pouring out of the tubes, meaning rushing water has been leaking all over the southern part of the country since last week.

Many homes, schools and businesses in London and surrounding regions have been left without water and people have been told to turn their taps off, have a shower instead of a bath, and only run washing machines and dishwashers when they are fully loaded.

Thames Water, South East Water, Southern Water and Affinity Water released a joint statement, saying: “We are getting as much extra water into our network as we can and sincerely apologise to all our customers who are currently without water or who have low pressure.”

The statement continued: “We really need our customers’ support and understanding to help us to get everyone back into supply quickly by avoiding non-essential uses of water.”

Water companies have been heavily criticised over their lack of action to prevent this problem, despite their efforts to ensure the impact on the public is minimal.

Rachel Fletcher, chief executive of Ofwat, told the Independent that while the freezing climate is to blame for the leaks, the inclement weather was forecast in advance. She therefore condemned their lack of forward planning, support for customers and communication.

In addition to this, councillor Mohammed Seedat wrote on Twitter that Thames Water is not “fit to manage London’s water network”.

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