Town sweeping up after water main bursts

Residents in Paddock Wood are still struggling to get back to normal after a series of water main bursts left some homes and businesses without a supply.

The disruption could hardly have come at a worse time as the whole country begins a week of exceptionally hot weather with temperatures expected to reach a record-breaking 40C.

The site of the first burst in Maidstone Road

Trouble began at around 5am on Sunday morning when the first burst occurred at a water main in Maidstone Road, not far from the entrance to Mascalls School.

Water flooded across the carriageway and into the yard of two semi-detached homes opposite that lie on a slightly lower level to the road.

Ironically, these two homes did not lose their supply as they are fed from a different main, but other homes in the area did, as South East Water moved in to fix the leak.

Julie Comeau said: “Our supply went off about 11.15 on Sunday morning and didn’t come back till 7pm.

“Fortunately our kettle was full and my husband has already got in the habit of keeping a couple of bottles of water in the fridge to keep them cool so we were okay.

The unrepaired second burst main, near the railway bridge in Maidstone Road

She said: “It did mean I had to go round my mum’s house in St Andrew’s Road though for a bath; they still had water.”

A resident of one of the homes who found their yard flooded said: “South East Water were very good. They soon had it fixed and then they jet-washed around our property. But it is the second time this has happened. Exactly the same thing occurred three years go.”

Next to go, was the water main further along Maidstone Road near the bridge over the railway line.

South East Water engineers were quickly able to isolate that section of the water main. Initially around 100 homes lost their supply yesterday, but all have had their water restored.

The damaged main however remains unrepaired.

Temporary traffic lights are in operation at both sites on Maidstone Road

Engineers were waiting this morning for a visit by a Network Rail inspector to sanction work so near the railway bridge.

He arrived at around noon, and said that as the leak was not actually on the bridge itself, work could proceed with caution.

Some quantities of soil had been jettisoned with the escaping water and there is concern that when the road surface is removed, engineers could find a sink-hole underneath.

The third and and fourth leaks were both in Commercial Road.

Ray Porritt, manager of the Aspens charity shop noticed water pouring from two inspection covers in the pavement at noon yesterday. He notified the water company, but pretty soon it was clear there was a burst main on the opposite side of the road outside the entrance to a development site, where Churchill Retirement Living is constructing a 33-home retirement complex.

Ray Porritt, manager at Aspens in Commercial RoadDebbie Golding, manageress at the Hospice In The Weald shop in Commercial Road

Again South East Water were quick to seal off the leak and few businesses were affected.

The Hospice in the Weald charity shop is one that was. Manager Debbie Golding said: “When I came in the his morning we had no water. With it expected to be the hottest day ever, we took the decision to close the shop and send our volunteers – who are mostly elderly – home. Though by 11am our water was back on.”

Many business saw no loss of supply, others only briefly. The Paddock Wood Kebab Shop said they were warned their supply would go off at 10pm on Sunday, but only for 10 minutes. “They were as good as their word,” they said.

Less happy was the site manager at the Churchill site.

The road was dug up immediately outside the site entrance, leaving no access for his delivery lorries.

The site of the burst main blocking the entrance to the Churchill housing developmentThe two HGVs waiting in Commercial RoadThe Churchill construction site

Two large HGVs loaded with preformed concrete blocks were parked up in Commercial Road unable to make their delivery, having travelled down from Scotland especially with their load.

Churchill’s manager said: “If we have to send the deliveries back, it could cost us £10,000.”

A number of South East Water contractors were loitering around outside Greggs, but they were unable to get on with the repair until a grabber lorry arrived, which fortunately did show up at about 1pm.

Mr Porritt was blistering in his criticism. He said: “It’s crazy. The water contractors are sitting around, while these two massive lorries clog up the road and no-one can get on with anything.”

Meanwhile water continued to trickle out of the inspection covers, and Mr Porritt continued to sweep it away.

Ray Porritt sweeping away the water spill

Lorraine Cooper who lives on the Maidstone Road halfway between two of the leaks, had her own criticism. She said: “I ride a motorbike. They’ve been quite quick at dealing with the problems, but they don’t sweep the carriageway afterwards. Lots of loose chippings are left on the road which for bikers can be dangerous.”

No-one said they had received any bottled water from South East Water during the disruption.

This afternoon, the biggest problem for Paddock Wood residents would appear to be traffic hold-ups.

Temporary traffic lights are in place around the two Maidstone Road leaks; Commercial Road is clogged by the two waiting HGVs and now a digger lorry, and on top of that, in unrelated work, there are traffic lights at the bottom of Commercial Road where new power cables are being laid, and another set in Maidstone Road with the road reduced to one lane, where a set of regular traffic lights are being renovated.

Human Interest Kent Tunbridge Wells Weald Alan Smith


popular today