Day the taps ran dry

IT was a case of water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink for Sandy residents on Monday. Taps in over 5,000 homes, nearly every house in the town, ran dry after a large water main burst alongside the A603 between Sandy and Hatch in the early hours

IT was a case of water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink for Sandy residents on Monday.

Taps in over 5,000 homes, nearly every house in the town, ran dry after a large water main burst alongside the A603 between Sandy and Hatch in the early hours of the morning.

Anglian Water said the burst was caused by ground movement, blaming last summer's extremely dry weather for earth shrinkage.

The subsidence shattered the 12 inch main that normally carries tens of thousands of gallons into Sandy every day.

Reports of no running water in homes began to filter through to Anglian Water at 3.30am and engineers soon traced the leak in the main running in a ditch at the side of the A603 close to where the road links up with the A1 at the Sandy roundabout.

As Sandy residents woke up to no running water in their taps there was a race to get bottled water from supermarkets that also quickly ran dry with people buying whole cases of bottled water.

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At one stage Anglian Water almost brought in their own emergency measures with water bowsers being on standby to be driven to the town to distribute water to residents in the streets.

In an attempt to make sure the elderly had sufficient water, especially those who needed to take medication, local councillor Max McMurdo distributed bottles of water kept for his own consumption, to neighbours close to his home in Cottage Road.

"I felt it was essential to make sure many of my elderly friends and neighbours should have water so I used my own supply and gave it away," said Mr McMurdo.

"I was lucky to have quite a few bottles at home but they soon went as I walked around nearby homes asking residents if they would like a bottle.

"Had the water been off any longer emergency supplies would have had to be brought it."

Ken Lynch, chairman of the Biggleswade and District Pensioners' Association who lives in Pyms Way, Sandy, praised Cllr McMurdo for his efforts saying: "Max came to the aid of a lot of people during this emergency and his quick think helped a lot of people.

"I found my water off when I got up at 6.30am but when I tried to get bottled water at stores or supermarkets soon afterwards they were already empty."

Water was running to all homes 11 hours after the burst main had been reported with an Anglian Water spokesman saying: "A 12 inch main burst and our engineers had to replace a nine metre stretch of pipe.

"This was caused by ground movement. We managed to get water back on to Sandy by early afternoon."

l Anglian Water engineers also had to deal with a burst three inch main in Boot Lane, Dunton, on Tuesday, but it did not inconvenience villagers.

But when the water was turned on again at the main in the road outside the Mad March Hare pub the valve became damaged and was left with a small leak that will have to be repaired.

A member of the pub staff said: "We have a permanent puddle outside but it is only small.

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