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Thousands of Homes in Derbyshire Without Water

Thousands of homes in Derbyshire and Leicestershire were without water for much of the weekend after Severn Trent found unusually high levels of chlorine in its Castle Donnington reservoir.  A “Do not use” announcement was made on Friday, meaning customers should not use water for washing or even flushing the toilet – not just drinking. Whilst the company appears to have remedied the immediate problem quickly, with supplies returning to normal during Sunday, there have been two criticisms of their overall handling of the incident.  Firstly, there have been complaints because free bottles of water were only distributed in two locations – Sainsbury’s in Swadlincote and Tesco in Ashby-de-la-Zouch – there have even been reports of people fighting over water in local shops.  Secondly, it is reported that the Severn Trent website crashed because it was unable to cope with the increased volume of traffic.  This latter point is a familiar feature of both service outages and product recalls: clearly more consideration needs to be given to the practical aspects of crisis communications in organisations’ incident management plans.