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Blackdown water leak - statement 19.06.18

Published: Tuesday, 19th June 2018

Contractors working at Blackdown have restored a fresh drinking water supply to the flats on all floors of the tower block.

The supply of fresh water used for bathing and flushing etc. has been available to floors 4-13 since Saturday afternoon (16th June) and was restored to floors 1-3 in the early afternoon of Monday 18th June. 

After additional specialist parts were sourced, fresh drinking water was restored to all floors by 9pm on Monday 18th June.

Yesterday’s fix involved new temporary pipes being fitted which feed off the original water tanks and alternative main, bypassing the damaged section of pipes.  This will remain in place while the permanent repairs are carried out over the next two weeks.

When it was established on Thursday afternoon that the water leak wasn’t going to be fixed immediately, South Essex Homes started knocking on doors informing residents of the situation and offering bottled water.  Letters were also delivered through every door that evening advising them that alternative toilet facilities and more supplies of water could be found at the nearby Balmoral Centre.

A response to the issue was coordinated by the Emergency Planning Unit at Southend Borough Council to ensure that local agencies worked together to find a solution and support residents.

By Friday afternoon one of the lifts at the block was operational again and on Saturday the second lift was fixed and a temporary fresh (but non-drinking) water supply was made available to flats on floors 4 and above, sourced directly from the hydrant, thanks to advice received and the loan of equipment from Essex Fire & Rescue Service.

By then the scale of the problem became more apparent and the contractors drafted in a larger team and more equipment in order to tackle the issue on Monday morning.  They had managed to source water from the original water tanks by bypassing the damaged pipework and fresh water to the first 3 floors was restored in the early afternoon and drinking water to all of the block by 9pm.

A resident of the block, who has two sons age 4 and 6, said: “Obviously it has been very difficult but it’s just one of those things – you don’t realise how much you use water until you haven’t got it! My personal view is that the council and South Essex Homes have been really helpful and have done as much as they possibly could in a bad situation to keep us informed of what’s going on.  If anything it’s taught us to get back to basics and we’ve learnt a lesson in how not waste water, so something positive had come out of it.”

Cllr John Lamb, leader of the council, says: “This has been a very difficult situation for everyone involved, and I would like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding.  I would also like to praise South Essex Homes staff and contractors and our own council staff who have all worked well together at all hours to provide the support that the community needed and also to resolve this as quickly as possible and return a water supply to the building.”

Chris Vaughan, one of the Directors at South Essex Homes said: “Whilst lessons can of course be learned from this experience, I am extremely proud of the way our staff members pulled together to and worked with residents to respond to this unprecedented emergency situation and acted with the best interest of residents in mind.  It was a brilliant example of partnership working with a coordinated response to the problem as the escalating scale of the leak became apparent.

“I would like to express my thanks to our colleagues at the partner agencies who assisted us - Southend Borough Council, Essex Fire & Rescue, The Balmoral Centre, and of course our own staff.

“Most of all I would like to thank the residents who were extremely patient, understanding and helpful to us and each other throughout the whole process".