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Southern Water is working through the holidays to keep your taps running and toilets flushing

Our work will continue, so while you watch your favourite festive film for the hundredth time, frontline workers will be manning water supply works, wastewater treatment works, pumping stations and our operational control room, as well as fixing any problems that arise across our region’s 49,000km of sewers and 15,000km of water pipes.

Southern Water is a 365 day a year, seven day a week, 24 hours a day operation – and as our communities gather to celebrate Christmas, New Year, Buddhism’s Bodhi Day, Jewish Hanukah, the Sikh commemoration of the Martyrdom of Ajit and Jujhar Singh, or even the Druidic Winter Solstice, our teams will be on hand to keep things flowing.

Our work will continue, so while you watch your favourite festive film for the hundredth time, frontline workers will be manning water supply works, wastewater treatment works, pumping stations and our operational control room, as well as fixing any problems that arise across our region’s 49,000km of sewers and 15,000km of water pipes.

Matt Smiley, operations manager for water production and distribution, is used to missing a few Christmas dinners due to his chosen career.

He said: “As always, our dedicated shift teams will be on-site operating our four major water supply works across Kent, Sussex and Hampshire throughout the festive period, and we have 60 extra colleagues on standby for our remaining seventy-six sites in case of emergency.

“People rely on us to deliver wholesome water treated to our stringent standards every time they turn a tap. Water company employees accept unsociable hours as part and parcel of the job.

“We care about the communities in which we live, so spare a thought for those of us working over the festive period whose efforts often go unnoticed, or those who probably won’t get called in but are ready to drop everything and attend a site at a moment’s notice.”

Meanwhile, at this time of year, customers should also prepare for cold snaps, when sudden drops in temperature can cause pipes to freeze and then burst when they thaw.

Matt added: “Customers should insulate their pipes and know where their stop cock is so in the event of a burst caused by ice expanding and breaking within the pipe, they can minimise any damage.”

Alex Saunders is Southern Water’s head of wastewater networks, where activity also continues throughout the day and night.

He said: “We don’t choose when a sewer pipe will break – or get blocked with turkey fat! That’s why we have control room staff keeping an eye on the network, and hundreds of contractors plus our fully equipped High Impact Team ready to respond on the ground in minutes should they be needed – no matter how remote. Providing an excellent service to our customers and protecting the environment are our key priorities.

One team always busy over Christmas is our fleet of wastewater tanker operatives, ready for action.

Alex added: “Our fleet gets deployed for two reasons generally. If a sewer bursts, we have to carry the wastewater away to protect the environment and ensure customers can use their facilities. 

“Another key role is dealing with groundwater. Some parts of the region are utterly waterlogged and without tanker support, entire villages can flood. Unfortunately, that means these colleagues might have to miss their Christmas Day with family, but if it wasn’t for them, then many more Christmases would be ruined.

“Their hard work does not always go unnoticed though - in the past, they have been brought multiple Christmas Dinners by grateful customers while they are hard at work!”

Our Operational Control Centre at Durrington will also be fully manned with over a dozen key staff monitoring water and wastewater networks and keeping track over potential issues on our Situational Awareness interactive map.

Our customer team will also be working during the festive season. Rachel Ryan-Crisp, vulnerability lead said: "we know that if things go wrong our customers need us, whatever the season.  That is why we will be making sure that there is always someone to pick up the phone on our emergency number (0330 303 0368) so we can get the right help where its needed.”