Regular readers of InYourArea may recall my column about the ‘nightmare before Christmas’ last year. It was a story about a large number of residents and businesses, in the Wealden areas of my constituency, who suffered a total loss of water supply in the 10 days leading up until 25th December.
And then, as January 2023 came to a cold and wet conclusion, there was another interruption in supply to people in Loose, in Southern Maidstone. The two incidents were unconnected (excuse the pun) but they caused some very bad press for South East Water and from meetings and communications I have subsequently had with senior management, I know they took it seriously.
To put their role in perspective, South East Water provides fresh drinking water to over 2.3m consumers through Kent, Sussex, Berkshire and Hampshire. Through its 9,000 miles of pipes, the company treats and pumps over 530m litres of fresh drinking water every day, with 87 different water treatment works running 24/7 throughout the year to meet our local needs.
Unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan, as we saw last December. Over the space of just 24 hours the southeast region experienced a rise in temperature of 20 degrees, from -7 to +13, which led to a massive outbreak of bursts and leaks on the pipe network. In that 24-hour period, over 100m litres of water was lost across the region – enough to supply three towns the size of Maidstone for a day.
I have been working with the company in their response to those affected and my team and I have helped secure individual compensation for a number of customers across the area. In recognition of the wider impact on the community, South East Water has also just announced a special community fund to help charities in my constituency.
Fifteen charities will receive grants of £2,000 each, totalling £30,000. So, if you’re a charity based in Maidstone & The Weald looking for some extra funding, click here to apply. It’s very easy, just fill out the short form with details of your organisation, and in no more than one hundred words say how a grant of £2,000 would benefit the work you’re doing in the community.
The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday April 21st. Successful applicants will be informed by email by the end of April and a short presentation event will take place on 12th May in Maidstone.
I commend this community charity fund initiative wholeheartedly and I am sure there will be many applications. I am really looking forward to reviewing them with the team from South East Water at the end of April, and I wish anyone applying the very best of luck.
The utility company has a big challenge on its hands to modernise the supply infrastructure and avoid serious future water supply outages, and I will be monitoring progress of their plans. Readers may wish to have a look themselves at South East Water’s website here where you can see a range of projects, short, medium and long term.