Page last updated at 20:56 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Freeze hits valley's water supply


BBC correspondent Wyre Davies shows the frozen pipe line disrupting water supplies in the Rhondda.

The water supply to around 6,000 homes and businesses in south Wales continues to be hit after freezing weather damaged pipes to a treatment works.

But Welsh Water hopes supplies in the Rhondda Fach will return to normal by late Wednesday evening.

Water bowsers have been sent to streets with water tankers refilling supplies since problems started on Tuesday.

The firm said water treatment works in the area was now operating normally after a frozen pipe was repaired.

In a statement, it said: "Water supplies to all customers will now begin to return to normal however some may notice temporary disruptions during this evening's peak demand period.

"We anticipate however that all supplies will have returned by late this evening.

Location map

"We will continue to tanker water to the works and to deploy water bowsers to key locations, providing water which needs to be boiled before drinking or food preparation.

"We are also making bottled water available to customers with special needs and mothers with young babies."

Welsh Water blamed freezing conditions for causing problems between Porth and Maerdy on Tuesday.

Supplies were "severely restricted" to Maerdy water treatment works, because of frozen pipes.

The company said it had been working round the clock to deal with the problem, which also led to nine local schools being closed.

Two of the 24 bowsers had been stolen and another three vandalised but the company said despite this, it was sending out a further 24 and doing "everything they can" to fill up as regularly as possible.

Local people spoke of the difficulties

"Most people have been patient but there have been some incidents of misuse of bowsers where people have not used the tap to fill bottles but have removed the plug, allowing a lot of water to go to waste," said the spokesman.

He added that the water supply was still fit to drink.

"As we carry out repair work, customers may experience intermittent loss of water supply and discoloured water. We are tankering water into the area to minimise the impact to customers," he said.

'Freezes immediately'

Rhondda assembly member Leighton Andrews met Welsh Water managers and residents and businesses affected in Maerdy and Ferndale this morning.

One local factory had been left without water needed for water-cooling processes.

"It is also important the water bowsers are re-filled as some have now run out," said Mr Andrews.

"Obviously a lot of activity has been going on since last night, and Welsh Water tell me they are hopeful that people should see things improving during the day.

"They say the situation they are facing is virtually unprecedented. I have discussed with them what might be done if similar circumstances arise in future."

Mir, living in Maerdy, said: "Residents in our particular village have no option but to brave the frozen conditions to reach a water bowser at the bottom of the hill.

"There are a lot of hills so you have to go down and back up to get water. Water is pouring out from the streets and it freezes immediately, so the roads are icy and people are flopping.

Ysgol Rhewl near Ruthin
Carmarthenshire: Ysgol Blaenau, Ammanford
Denbighshire: Ysgol Rhewl, near Ruthin
Swansea: Birchgrove Primary School; Pentrehafod Comprehensive School closed to Years 7, 8 and 9; Hafod Primary School is closed to nursery and flying start pupils

"I am pregnant so cannot go out onto the icy roads and get to the water bowser."

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said it had assurances that all schools would reopen on Thursday.

The weather has led to hospitals reporting a rise in patients with ice-related injuries, prompting one accident and emergency consultant to urge elderly people to stay inside during below freezing temperatures.

Mike McCabe at Morriston Hospital in Swansea said his department had again been extremely busy on Tuesday, following another 106 cases of fall injuries on Monday.

Thirty patients had fractures and trauma injuries which needed them to be admitted on Monday - an unprecedented number in a single day.

Mr McCabe said: "The clear message for elderly people is to stay indoors.

"Don't go outside to put the rubbish out, don't go out to put the cat out, don't go to the shop to buy a newspaper - instead get a fit and healthy relative or friend to run any errands for you."

BBC Wales meteorologist Derek Brockway said the cold weather was gradually easing its grip, with temperatures for the next few days and nights not as low as recently.

He said: "Because there is more cloud, there is less cold air. This evening any rain will die away leaving a dry night with a slight to moderate frost."

The only weather station in Wales not to record extreme cold temperatures was at Valley, on Anglesey.

Oil tank

Pensioners and vulnerable people in affected areas will now be eligible for an 25-a-week assistance.

More than 20 schools were closed again in parts of north, west and south Wales on Wednesday.

But most were due to re-open on Thursday.

In Denbighshire, a primary school forced to close after its heating oil was stolen will remain closed until next Monday.

The fuel was taken from an oil tank outside the 50-pupil primary school Ysgol Rhewl near Ruthin sometime over the Christmas and new year period but was only discovered on Monday.

Anyone in the Rhondda experiencing persistent problems with their water supply should contact Welsh Water on 0800 052 0130.

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