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Keeping the flow through the snow

Northumbrian Water crews across the North East have been battling the Beast this week as some of the heaviest winter weather in years struck the region.

The Beast From The East has caused disruption for most people, but the company′s crews have been working hard, going above and beyond to ensure that our networks have kept going and people′s water has kept flowing.

From North Northumberland to the borders of North Yorkshire our people have faced sub-zero temperatures, snow blizzards and relentless conditions during what has been a tough couple of days for our communities.

They′ve dealt with frozen pipes, network disruptions, power-cuts to Northumbrian Water sites and high levels of calls and contacts from concerned customers, 24 hours a day.

As well as helping customers, they′ve also been working hard to help each other and keep colleagues safe.

Customer Director Claire Sharp said: "With all of the disruption that′s been taking place, our people know that the last thing customers need is to lose their water supply on top of everything else. If you can′t get to the shops for milk or tea, at least if you have water, you can stay hydrated and keep going.

"As well as answering customer calls and keeping them up to date on social media, the team is also making sure older customers or those who need a little extra help who are calling in are safe, in particular one 96 year old lady whose pipes had frozen. The team made sure she had heating, water and everything she needed after she mentioned she was boiling snow to flush her loo!

"What has been fantastic to see are some of the comments that have come in on social media, showing that our customers really appreciate the efforts our people have made to keep the water flowing.

"And there is also our wastewater services to consider, with more than 425 sewerage treatment works, 1000 pumping stations, and 220 combined sewer overflows, plus 19 sludge tankers that need to keep operating right across the region...even in snow!"

A large proportion of these sites are covered by alarm systems that warn when something goes wrong and the team has been dealing with an increase in alarms from sites, due to snow so deep that it prevented their normal operation.

Those employees with 4x4′s have also been acting as a taxi service to help people get to extreme rural sites in the Wear Valley, Berwick, Rural Northumberland and Suffolk.

The team has also been working with local councils to help clear the way and allow us access to our sites in our most rural locations, not just for the team, but also to get important chemical deliveries on site.

Claire said: "It′s been an amazing effort to make sure we are still supplying customers with clean, clear and great tasting water. They′ve also been taking extra care of each other.

"To make sure everyone gets home safe every day our caring people have been covering shifts and giving people lifts, clearing footpaths and car parks, digging out stranded cars and gritting the paths and roads and doing whatever it takes to lend a hand.

"We even had some of our Operations Centre of Excellence team staying at a local hotel to make sure there is someone available to get in to the office to answer our customer calls, as well as being nearby and able to come back to the office in case of an emergency."

For further media information, call 0191 3015678.

Northumbrian Water Limited supplies 2.7 million customers in the North East with both water and sewerage services, trading as Northumbrian Water, and 1.8 million customers in the South East with water services, trading as Essex & Suffolk Water.

In the most recent survey by the Consumer Council for Water, Northumbrian Water was named the UK′s most trusted water company by its customers. 2017 also saw Northumbrian Water named the world′s most ethical water company for the seventh successive year and Utility of the Year at the Utility Week Awards, for the second time in four years.

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