Water Supply Issues in Wealden

Open letter from James Partridge – Leader Wealden District Council 

Dear Wealden Resident 

I am writing to ask for you to help some residents of Wealden whose water supply has failed. This is unpleasant and frightening for all affected residents and particularly for housebound and vulnerable people. 

Our ask is simply – Please would you use as little water as you reasonably can, until further notice? 

Whatever the right and wrongs of the situation, this is the only way by which the water supply can be restored quickly. Small changes by our whole community will help to restore water to those affected.  

I should make it clear that South East Water (SEW) is, alone, responsible for supplying water to the Wealden District. WDC does not supply water and has no water infrastructure. It does not regulate South East Water and has no legal powers over it. OFWAT is the only organisation with those powers. 

As local councillors, we do have a duty to represent residents’ views to SEW (and others) and I gratefully acknowledge the efforts of all who have done this.

The Council itself, officers working closely with our leadership team, has: 

  • Initiated WDC emergency response at 07.54 on Monday 11 June. Gold command at WDC was stood up putting response teams on alert.
  • Notified SEW on Monday morning at 08.07am. At the same time WDC offered support to staff bottled water stations and to deliver water to the most vulnerable. 
  • Has worked with SEW to pass information from and to residents.
  • Has written to the CEO of SEW (copy letter within FAQs).
  • Has met with the CEO of SEW to understand better what is causing the problem and when it is likely to be solved.
  • Has agreed to the convening of an extraordinary meeting of Council to enable the matter to be fully aired.
  • Has committed to a make a formal complaint to OFWAT.
  • Has encouraged SEW to declare a major incident, allowing greater partner support.
  • SEW have consistently declined support from WDC or the Sussex Resilience Forum.

The root cause of the problem is a lack of investment in the District’s water infrastructure. This is true of many, if not all, parts of the country. Putting that right is a matter for national government and I wish I could see any signs of that nettle being grasped.

Finally, and regrettably, we are aware of many myths circulating around this issue, often from those that should know better and so are creating a live list of FAQs to address these here:

Yours sincerely 

James Partridge – Leader Wealden District Council 

P.S Please do what you can to use less water for the time being.