Farmers across the South East are being urged to check their land and buildings for water leaks.

Due to snow and ice thawing rapidly overnight in the Kent & Sussex areas, we have seen a 300 per cent increase in the number of bursts, both on supply pipes and on customers’ pipes.

Currently there are around 15,000 homes and businesses without water or with low pressure.

This has resulted in an immediate increase in demand for water and drained clean water stores across the water-supply company’s 9,000-mile pipe network – even though many leaks are believed to be on household and business properties.

Douglas Whitfield, South East Water’s Incident Director, said: “On a normal winter’s day we extract, treat and pump an average of 530 million litres of drinking water a day to customers.

“During the past 24 hours this has increased by 90 million litres to 620 million litres.

“Although we planned for this increase in leaks and are reacting as quickly as possible, we cannot predict when and where pipes will burst.

“Our teams are working flat out to find, fix and repair the leaks on our pipes but we’re asking customers and business owners to help too by checking their properties, outside taps and troughs for leaks and get them repaired as soon as possible.

“Leaking pipes not only drain the network which householders and businesses alike rely on for drinking water provision, but also threaten to leave livestock at risk of having no water.”

While South East Water is responsible for their pipework, land owners are responsible for the pipework within their property boundary – including pipes inside properties, outside taps and drinking trough supply pipes.

If land managers find a leak, they should contact a WaterSafe plumber for assistance: or alternatively contact their water retailer, whom they are billed by, for advice.

Farmers should visit South East Water’s interactive In Your Area map for the latest information on water supply problems: