Cumbria

Storm Ciara: Major incident declared over Cumbria water supply

Bottled water being handed out in Shap
Image caption Free bottled water collection points have been set up

Problems with the water supply to parts of Cumbria following Storm Ciara have been declared a major incident by police.

People in areas around Shap, Penrith, Appleby, Tebay, Clifton and Kirkby Stephen were warned not to drink or clean with tap water.

Water firm United Utilities said a 100m (330ft) section of the water main was damaged in Sunday's storm.

A supply issue in the Penrith area forced more than 20 schools to close.

Residents were told tap water was ok to use again at about 16:00 GMT as the quality had "returned to normal".

However, about 5,000 properties in rural areas in and around Appleby, Shap, Orton, Ravenstonedale, Ivegill, Low Braithwaite, Threlkeld and Glenridding were expected to have poor pressure or no water as a result of the damage, United Utilities said.

Engineers are "battling to repair" a severely damaged water pipe under a river bed and the work may take another two days.

"Teams have been working around the clock to get it fixed but the repair is difficult and the high winds and now snow on higher ground is continuing to make this a very difficult job," the firm said.

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Collection points have been set up so people affected can get free bottled water.

About 20 tankers of water are on stand-by on bridges across the M6 should they be needed.

Cumbria Police confirmed it had declared a major incident at about 11:00 GMT.

Image caption Carlisle's Rickerby Park remains flooded

These incidents require special measures by one or more of the emergency services, health providers and local authorities.

Much of Cumbria suffered flooding from Storm Ciara, with some areas, including Rickerby Park in Carlisle, still under water.

A Met Office yellow warning for snow and ice is in place until midnight.

United Utilities said damage to the main had resulted in higher than normal levels of chlorine being detected.

A spokesman said: "As a result of Storm Ciara we have experienced damage to a water main.

"We have been working through the night with our teams to repair the damage, but the pipe is located under a fast flowing river bed and the surrounding land is extremely hazardous impacting the speed in which we are able to make the repair.

"The weather has been truly awful and given us some problems, so we expect the repair work will take longer than we expected."

Shap newsagent, Dave Anderson, whose shop was hit by floods on Sunday, said he had been taking bottled water out to vulnerable people while delivering papers.

Image caption Chip shop owner Ashley Phillips is offering to top up bottles of water

Nearby chip shop owner Ashley Phillips, whose premises retained a clean water supply, offered to refill water bottles for free.

Bottled water collection points have been set up at the following locations:

  • Shap Memorial Hall
  • Broad Close Car Park, Appleby-in-Westmorland
  • Tebay Services (Northbound)
  • Clifton Village Hall
  • Market Square, Kirkby Stephen
  • Pooley Bridge Village Hall
  • Greystoke Swimming Pool, Penrith.

United Utilities has issued a telephone number for those who are elderly, vulnerable or sick who are unable to get their own bottled water - it is 0345 672 3723.

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