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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2007, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Water supplies returning to homes
Flooding in Tewkesbury
The region is heading for a drier spell, say forecasters

Water supplies will begin returning to thousands of homes in Gloucestershire within hours, after engineers battled to repair a flooded treatment works.

But Severn Trent Water - which plans to phase in supplies over a week - warned that the water would not initially be fit for drinking, even if boiled.

County police chief Tim Brain asked people to stay patient, adding: "There is light at the end of the tunnel."

Fears of more flooding have faded and drier weather is forecast for the week.

"The restoration of supply is beginning very slowly and cautiously, and appropriately so, because we don't want any mishaps at this stage," said Chief Constable Brain.

About 140,000 Gloucestershire homes lost running water supplies after the floods first hit more than a week ago, putting the Mythe treatment plant, near Tewkesbury, out of action.

A few thousand homes in the Tewkesbury area will be the first to get their water back over the next day, then supplies will be returned area by area.

For the majority of homes in Gloucester and Cheltenham, reconnection is still several days away
Andy Smith, Severn Trent Water

Severn Trent said it hoped to restore the water supply to all homes in the region by Thursday.

Nearly 54,000 homes in and around Gloucester could expect supplies to resume tomorrow, with the Cheltenham area following a day later.

The company said where possible people should turn taps off which may have been left open when supplies were first lost.

Newly restored water must not be used for preparing food, making ice or brushing teeth, it added.

Director of water services Andy Smith described the weekend's progress as "significant". Police later said it had put the restoration work one day ahead of schedule.

But Mr Smith added: "This does not mean that customers will have water at their taps immediately. For the majority of homes in Gloucester and Cheltenham, reconnection is still several days away."

He said 1,200 miles of water pipes still needed to be re-filled.

'Thank goodness'

Extra inspectors were out checking supplies and pipes, but he urged people to watch out for bogus callers posing as water officials.

"All genuine Severn Trent workers carry ID and will be happy to wait outside while you confirm their identity. If there is any doubt who the caller is keep them out," he said.

A specialist hovercraft was used to find a body in Tewkesbury

Customers could ring 0800 783 4444 to check or even ring the police, he added.

Although flood-hit areas in western England saw more rain overnight it was not as bad as feared.

Daniel Corns who lives in Kempsey in Worcestershire told BBC Radio Five Live he had been worried the water would come in again.

"Last night it was constantly on my mind and [I was] looking out every five minutes to see whether the rain was still pouring down - but it didn't, thank goodness".

Nigel Bolton, from the Met Office, told BBC Radio Five Live there was a "glimmer of hope on the horizon".

He said: "We will have mainly dry days, for two or three days at least anyway, with some sunshine.

Water from newly-restored supplies must not be drunk, even after boiling it
It must not be used for food preparation or cleaning dishes
It must not be used for making baby formula or baby feeds
Boiled bowser water is the best option for infant formula
It must not be used for cleaning teeth or making ice
Newly-restored water must only be used for sanitation purposes until further notice
Boil bowser water before use as a precaution
Floodwater must be avoided where possible and children must not play in it
If in contact with it, wash hands with soap, especially before food preparation and eating
If clearing up floodwater wear protective clothing and cover cuts and grazes
Source: Gloucestershire PCT

The Environment Agency has no severe flood warnings in place but there are still three standard flood warnings.

These are all for the River Severn - at Gloucester, between Worcester and Tewkesbury, and from Tewkesbury to upstream of Gloucester.

As the floods receded Communities Secretary Hazel Blears told News 24 it was important local and national authorities kept those affected "in our minds" in the months ahead.

"What's really important for government now is that we do the clean-up but that we also stay in touch with these people."

Meanwhile opposition politicians have said the government should not "profit" from the floods by collecting VAT on the resulting building repair work.

Both shadow environment minister Bill Wiggins and Lib Dem environment spokesman Chris Huhne told the Sunday Express more money should be released for those in need.

See where the heaviest rain fell

Police in Tewkesbury searching for Mitchell Taylor, 19, who went missing after leaving a bar on 21 July, found a body on Saturday.

Gloucestershire Police said the man's body had still not been formally identified.

On Thursday, Bram Lane, 64, and his son Chris, 27, were found dead at Tewkesbury Rugby Club.

They are thought to have been overcome by fumes as they used a petrol-powered pump to clear floodwater.

Environment Agency floodline: 0845 988 1188

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The floods clear-up begins


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