Tens of thousands of homes and businesses, as well as schools and hospitals have been left with no water or low pressure in south-west London, Thames Water said this morning.
BBC London understands a number of schools were forced to close due to lack of drinking water or water to flush toilets.
St Richard Reynolds College in Twickenham posted on social media that it had “no option but to close” due to the water issues.
Thames Water said the problems have been caused by a power supply issue at its water treatment works in west London.
The company said it was “working hard” to fix the issue and water tankers were being brought in to support local hospitals.
The water supply issues are affecting 35 postcodes.
Schools were forced to close after the firm confirmed issues are down to a power supply problem that hit its Ashford and Hampton water treatment works in west London.
Power is back, a spokesperson has said, but customers can expect water supply to “take some time” to return – with tankers sent “as a precaution” to affected areas to “support local hospitals and critical infrastructure”.
Anyone who has pre-registered as having special requirements – such as being medically reliant on water – is being identified so the company can get in touch, the spokesperson added.
“We’re really sorry to customers in southwest London who are experiencing low pressure or no water,” Thames Water said.
Adam Jacobs, who lives in Isleworth in southwest London, told Sky News he had to run to the shops for water to make sure he has enough for his seven-month-old baby, who is bottle-fed.
Shelves were fast becoming empty as others bought bottles in a panic, he said, but he managed to get enough for the time being.
He worries he’ll run out if the issues last into the afternoon.
“When I got there, they were running out of bottled water, people were panic buying,” the 43-year-old said.
“I don’t have a car, but I knew I could run to the shops. If this goes on for the day then there is a serious problem.”
Adam, who works from home, says their supply of bottled water is low as he wanted to leave enough in the shop for others.
“It just seems unbelievable in this day and age that a company as large as Thames Water can have nothing in place when power goes down,” he added.
Thames Water is the UK’s largest water company. It was bought in 2006 by a consortium led by the Australian Macquarie Group.
Macquarie’s ownership has seen the company paying substantial dividends to shareholders while increasing debt and failing to keep up with needed infrastructure improvements, however it is not known who was responsible for the power outage at the water treatment plant.
In the UK water that is piped into homes is universally drinkable, and in general there is no needed for householders to buy bottled water. Some years ago when the Dasani brand bottled-water was introduced to the UK, it was soon discovered that the bottles contained Thames tap water.
Sources: BBC, Sky News, news agencies.