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Loughton's Water Supply

Support LRA13 January 2023
Residents may have noticed some recent short interruptions to their water supply recently, and held their breath hoping there wouldn't be a repeat of the incidents in late 2021. Thankfully, supply was only interrupted for a short time.

As a reminder, if you have water supply problems:
As a precaution:

1 July 2022

Another burst of bursts – Thames Water explains
The Town Council met with Thames Water and received a letter explaining the reasons for the recent appalling traffic jams in Loughton caused by their roadworks. In Buckhurst Hill they had been replacing a section of old Victorian pipe; this stretch of pipe  has been particularly susceptible to leaks and bursts in the past so this work will significantly reduce the risk to future disruptions in Loughton.

Unfortunately, while they were carrying out this work, several other bursts occurred elsewhere in Loughton; they had to repair these to prevent major supply interruptions. One occurred on a 12-inch diameter pipe on Alderton Hill and led to the full closure of this main road; it was quite a significant burst. The second burst occurred on Valley Hill, and temporary traffic lights had to be installed. It turned out to be a complicated repair because of the damage caused by the burst and because several new key pieces of equipment needed to be installed. There was also a sewer repair in the High Road restricting traffic flows, then the appearance of a sink hole close to where the repair was being undertaken which led to the need to close the entire road for two weeks.

While Essex Highways cannot interfere with the road closures for 'emergency' works, Thames Water must have a permit (which the County Council have to grant) before starting. If you see Thames Water closing roads, check here for details. If it's not shown on the map, tell Essex Highways and email us

LRA comment: Thames Water’s excuses are pretty feeble – if they had spent more in the past repairing and/or replacing our Victorian pipework instead of paying massive amounts to their shareholders, they would not now be needing to make so many repairs in Loughton. Once again we have had reports of barriers appearing, holes being dug, and then no action for days on end. The LRA-led Town Council are doing what they can, but Thames Water, and other water companies, seem to be effectively outside public control.

1 June 2022

Residents will have noticed road works by Thames Water at Valley Hill (again) and Alderton Hill in the past two weeks, which have caused disruption locally.

Thames Water also planned to start work at the corner of the High Road and The Drive earlier this week, which would have compounded the disruption. However LRA Cllr Chris Pond raised this with County Highways Portfolio Holder Cllr Lee Scott, and the work was deferred.

11 February 2022

Thames Water have said that compensation payments will be made automatically and will be writing to you if you’re one of the households who were affected by recent water supply problems.

Residents can still make a claim online (choose 'Water supply not duly restored after interruption’). If you think you should receive compensation but haven’t heard from Thames Water, you can make a claim but need to do this within three months of the incident. Be aware that compensation may not be paid if the supply failure to your property does not meet specific criteria of water pressure and the timings of outages.

If you have not received a response from a claim you may wish to make a formal complaint. Details are here, including phone, mailing address and email contact details.

Tap14 January 2022
Can we have a normal, regular water supply?

See also Valley Hill/Oakwood Hill Burst Water Main and Water Supply Problems - What To Do below

As residents will be all too aware, during the weekend before Christmas there was no water or low pressure to large parts of Loughton for three days. This is down to chronic underinvestment for decades - most of Loughton's pipes are Victorian and of iron.

Our understanding is that water supplied into Loughton is normally from four trunk mains. One of those at Valley Hill/Oakwood Hill was out of action from an earlier incident (see below). Then in the early morning of December 17th, another main alongside the High Road leading from Buckhurst Hill burst, leaving the town dependent on the two trunk mains that come into town along Earls Path. That is why the water pressure was low or non-existent for many residents. It was discovered that there were exposed cables near the burst pipe which required assistance from UK Power Networks on site, thus delaying the pipe repair. Thames Water cannot just double the pressure in the remaining mains, because they would then be in danger of bursting.

There have also been repeated leaks at various locations on other occasions, such as the top of Alderton Hill and outside Loughton Police Station (High Road/Forest Road).

The LRA-led Town Council has recently had two sessions with Thames Water about the poor service Loughton has been receiving. As a result, Thames Water has promised a better service – see their letter. The Town Council will be monitoring their performance, but in the end, Thames are a private utility answerable to no public authority.

The inconsistent and incomplete messages during these incidents from Thames Water were unhelpful, to say the least.
Thames Water have said that compensation payments will be made automatically and will be writing to you if you’re one of the households who've been affected. More. However we know some residents are sceptical about the process of getting automatic compensation from Thames Water so you can make a claim online (choose 'Water supply not duly restored after interruption’).

LRA has reported this, and other incidents on many other occasions. We too are completely fed up with the situation. The problem is that Thames Water are a foreign-owned private company, unresponsive in general, and sitting on an infrastructure which is decayed and no longer robust, failing on almost a daily basis.

Valley Hill/Oakwood Hill Burst Water Main

Valley HillAs a result of the burst water main on December 2nd Valley Hill remains closed, pending the repair of the pipe by Thames Water.  This has caused significant problems to residents, with traffic diversions causing speeding or congested traffic on back roads and no 167 bus service as that is now diverted away from the area.

The burst pipe is complicated to repair. Loughton Brook runs in a concrete channel culvert under Valley Hill, and the pipe to be repaired is under that. The culvert needs to be carefully protected during the work to stop it collapsing. Thames Water have promised various dates for completion of the work (for example see here); the latest is that it will be complete by January 23rd.

Valley Hill

The LRA-led Town Council continues to highlight the problems for residents to both Thames Water and Essex Highways and is urging them to get the work done without further delay, and that they should communicate better with residents and Cllrs about what is going on.

Water Supply Problems - What To Do