Baldock and Letchworth water supply: Joy and tributes to community spirit as running water returns

Affinity Water restored the supply in Baldock and Letchworth late last night. File photo. Credit: Ge

Affinity Water restored the supply in Baldock and Letchworth late last night. File photo. Credit: Getty Images/TongRo Images RF - Credit: Getty Images/TongRo Images RF

There was joy across Baldock and Letchworth last night as the burst water main was repaired – meaning tap supplies returned during the early hours.

The line for bottled water at Letchworth's outdoor pool on Tuesday evening. Picture: Steve Brewer

The line for bottled water at Letchworth's outdoor pool on Tuesday evening. Picture: Steve Brewer - Credit: Archant

Some 23,000 homes and businesses across the area had been left without running water for more than 24 hours in some cases, with bottled water given out at key locations to help people cope.

Many people have saluted the strong community spirit exhibited by their neighbours during the disruption – which was accompanied by a power cut that affected 626 properties between 11.45am and 2pm yesterday.

Much of Baldock lost its tap supply at about 9pm on Monday evening after a 16in outlet main burst at the town’s Weston Hills storage reservoir.

Affinity Water technicians used pumps to try to access the main – which was submerged under three metres of water – and eventually had to isolate it from the network at lunchtime yesterday, which meant the supply cut spread to Letchworth, Weston and surrounding areas.

It had been feared it could take until late last night for technicians to drain the water from around the burst main – but the Affinity team got to it at about 6pm, and at 10.35pm the company announced that the main had been fixed.

A flooded field near Baldock. Picture: Affinity Water

A flooded field near Baldock. Picture: Affinity Water - Credit: Archant

Affinity said customers may experience discoloured or aerated water for a time – common following a major interruption – but that this was not harmful, and would clear with normal use.

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A spokesman added: “We are sorry for the inconvenience caused by this incident and would like to thank you for your patience.”

Affinity had anticipated that the isolation of the burst main could hit supplies in the SG4, SG5, SG6 and SG7 postcode areas – which would also include Hitchin – but the town does not seem to have been affected.

Affinity and others handed out bottled water at locations including Baldock’s Tesco store, the Knights Templar Sports Centre and the outdoor pool in Letchworth – with bottles delivered to some more vulnerable people.

Some people took it upon themselves to help others with support such as water deliveries, with several reports of school-age youngsters taking water to older members of the community.

These three youngsters from St Mary's Junior School in Baldock delivered bottled water to older memb

These three youngsters from St Mary's Junior School in Baldock delivered bottled water to older members of the community. - Credit: Archant

Debbie Russell said last night: “We have all been in a situation today, many of us have not been in before, and it has obviously caused some inconvenience to us all.

“However, we have all, as a community, pulled together, and helped each other out as much as we could.

“People gave up their spare time, to make sure that the elderly, vulnerable and people who had no transport had bottles of water.

“Adults, with bottles of water in their car boots, just randomly dotted around the town to give to people that needed them. Young teenagers just putting bottles on people’s doorsteps.

“So a massive thank you to all that have helped today’s situation be a lot more bearable for many many people.”

Affinity staff handing out bottled water at Letchworth outdoor pool to those who had lost their tap

Affinity staff handing out bottled water at Letchworth outdoor pool to those who had lost their tap supplies on Tuesday. Picture: Steve Brewer - Credit: Archant

Josephine Toal added that when she took supplies to her parents’ house, she found boys and girls aged about 10 knocking on the doors to offer bottles of water to the elderly.

She said: “I just felt how lovely it was for such young children to go to the effort of getting the water and taking the time to go round knocking on doors to see if people were in need of it.

“Just lately on social media all you see are bad comments about youngsters, so to see such a young group being so helpful makes a lovely change.”

Ellen Susan Bates agreed, telling this paper: “Kids are always getting bad press these days and this goes to show that they don’t deserve it. These lads are a credit to their families.”

Affinity’s social media spokesman posted: “I’ve managed lots of incidents before but I honestly can’t remember a community that have all chipped in and helped each other so much. Baldock rocks.”

https://twitter.com/HobsonandSon/status/892287618532159492

The water problems yesterday among other things forced businesses such as Letchworth’s Broadway Cinema to close, with North Herts Leisure Centre briefly shutting during the power cut.

The water supply cut came after reports of a water leak in Baldock’s Pryor Road as early as Wednesday last week.

Fields near the pumping station south of Baldock, near London Road and Weston Way, flooded yesterday – with a flow described by dog-walker Rupert Hobson as “incredible”.

Those who had lost their water supplies began to report restored running water late last night.

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