A COMPANY has apologised after pubs, business and residents went more than four hours without running water.

A burst pipe is understood to have affected many people across Witham and the surrounding CM8 area.

Problems with low water pressure were first reported just after 10am on New Year’s Day but after just 30 minutes many residents had complained of having no running water.

Essex and Suffolk Water quickly confirmed the problem was caused by a burst in a large water main but it took several hours before water was restored.

The firm kept customers updated via Twitter and said repairs took longer than expected due to the complex nature of the work required.

Water was eventually restored just after 2.30pm but customers were warned that low pressure would continue for several hours.

The lack of water affected many pubs in Witham, with Wetherspoons, the Red Lion and the George in Newland Street all forced to alter their opening times.

Katherine Mead, landlady at the George, said: “We’d managed to get most of the cleaning up from New Year Eve done early so didn’t notice it until we had a call from the Red Lion.

“There was a lot of football on live so we were fully staffed because we expected it to be busy.

“But a lot of people probably decided to go out of town because it was a lot quieter than we had hoped. It didn’t start getting busy again until the evening when the water had been back on for a while.

“I think we and a lot of pubs have lost trade from it. It was disappointing.”

She added: “It was disappointing, but it couldn’t be helped and they did their best to fix it quickly.

“I think the communication was poor though. We didn’t know when the water would be back on so couldn’t let our customers know. They should have kept us informed.”

St George’s care home confirmed it was also affected and went several hours without access to water.

The shortage appeared to cause mass panic among some residents, with many flocking to the shops to stock up on bottles of water.

The desperate dash for water meant many shops soon sold out.

Customers stated on Facebook they had travelled out of town to shops in Cressing and Springfield just to stock up.

Essex and Suffolk Water had said on social media it was planning to set up bottled water stations if the repairs carried on into the evening.

A spokesman said: “We were first notified of no water or low pressure in the Witham area shortly after 11am and immediately dispatched a team to investigate.

“Locating and repairing the burst was complex due to the rural location and size of the pipe. Once found our team were able to isolate the pipe and divert water to restore supply to our customers.

“Customers began coming back into supply from 2.30pm with all customers back on by 4pm. Our team worked overnight to complete the repair.

“We’d like to apologise for the inconvenience caused to customers in the affected area and thank them for their patience and understanding.”