Water was finally being restored to hundreds of rural homes near Monmouth today after three days without any supply.
Residents have slammed the ‘lack of information’ from Welsh Water as “appalling”, with South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman also blasting “dire communication”.
Around 1,000 homes north of the town and as far afield as the Golden Valley were hit by the loss, which began early on Monday morning, and has been blamed on frozen pipes thawing and bursting.
A reported 360 homes in the Llangrove and Llangarron area were affected, alongside people living on upper Manson Lane just over a mile from Monmouth, Garway, Broad Oak, Llanrothal and Llancloudy.
Residents say they had hardly any communication about the problems, which began early on Monday morning, with the last message a text sent to residents on Tuesday (December 20) at 8am saying “We’re sorry you may have no water, or low pressure. For further updates, click here www.dwrcymru.com/ya”.
An alert then referred to ‘operational issues’ affecting the Ledbury, Ross-on-Wye, Llandrindod Wells, Vowchurch areas, but nothing specific to north of Monmouth.
A post said: “We’re continuing to work around the clock to restore all supplies as quickly as possible.
“We are using tankers to refill the water mains in order to restore and maintain water supplies. Thank you for your patience.”
Welsh Newton-based Herefordshire councillor Elissa Swinglehurst was one of those affected and directly contacted the emergency planning manager of Welsh Water before posting reports of water finally returning to local homes.
She posted on Wednesday: “Just come off a call with the emergency planning manager… He confirmed that supply has been restored but it will take time (up to 5hrs) to repressurise the system.”
The reservoir near Llangrove was being refilled, with nearby homes restored to supply later on Wednesday.
Cllr Swinglehurst added on Wednesday night: “Llanrothal, Welsh Newton. I have been told that the reservoir is over 30 per cent full, pressure is being managed to avoid bursts… slowly does it.
“God willing we should have water in the next couple of hours.”
And at 1am she posted: “Engineer is still here. I've spoken with him. The system is filling up, so it's coming but just takes time.
“It has to get to Welsh Newton, then Llanrothal, then Garway… so far it has not quite got to Welsh Newton…”
Then at 6am she celebrated: “I've got water! Thanks to the engineers who stayed until the early hours.
“When they say they have been working round the clock they mean it. They are doing 16hr shifts. So a big thank you to them!”
Homes at Tregate and Osbaston Road were also soon reconnected, but there were reports this morning that homes in Llanrothal were still off.
But while there was support for the ‘round the clock’ efforts of the engineers, many were scathing about the lack of information during the shut-off.
South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman, whose constituency includes Welsh Newton, Llangarron and Llangrove, slammed the response, posting on Twitter on Wednesday: “The comms from @DwrCymru have been dire.”
He later added: “I’ve had absolute assurances from Welsh Water that... my constituents were not downgraded but it doesn't feel that way to them on the ground.
“I certainly think there should be an internal review, I think they should publish the results of that."
Welsh Water said the issues were mainly in rural areas with long lengths of mains.
"We have texted customers… We've been pushing our resources to get the problems fixed on the ground," said chief executive Peter Perry. "I do apologise if customers feel our communication has been poor."
One woman slammed Welsh Water’s response as “utterly appalling” on the utility’s Facebook page.
Huw Bellamy from Welsh Newton posted initially: “Complete lack of updates other than a text this morning saying should be back on this afternoon.
“Late evening no water still in our area, Welsh Newton. Poor customer service.”
And when the water hadn’t been turned back on by Tuesday, he wrote: “Welsh Water this is (a) total shambles, still no water.
“False completion times, continually just fobbing us off. Households with families now with no water for over 36 hrs.”
Claire Williams from Llangrove added: “Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, the link you have provided is not for the area I live in.
“The lack of communication begs belief. Whilst I appreciate teams are working around the clock to resolve these problems there is no reason for not communicating the current situation. It is just not good enough.”
Kim Evans from Garway labelled it “most incompetent” and said there had been “absolute fury” in the village.
Mr Norman says Welsh Water have told him there will be “full compensation” for those who lost supply.