Families were left wondering whether their Christmas plans could go ahead after burst pipes left thousands of homes without tap water following the bitter cold snap.
Some have even flushed their toilets using snow and collect rainwater to do the dishes.
Homes across the south of England including Hampshire, Sussex and Kent have been affected after pipes burst following a thaw in subzero temperatures.
But Southern Water said this afternoon that the ‘majority of customers now have their water back’.
Bottled water stations were open again today for thousands of residents left without it for the last few days
There were long queues at a bottled water station in Eastleigh, Hampshire yesterday
The company said in a statement: ‘We are sorry for the distress, disruption and inconvenience the loss of water in parts of Hampshire has caused for the past two days – especially in the run up to Christmas.
‘We are pleased to say that the majority of our customers now have their water back.
‘The teams have worked hard to ensure that our water supply is stable and our reservoir storage is topped up. Water demand continues to be high so please use water wisely.
‘We would like to thank our customers for their patience as we gradually repressurised the network – it was important that we did this slowly to avoid pipes bursting.
‘Bottled water stations will remain open until 10pm this evening, as a precaution. We will update the live status of these stations on our website and social channels.
‘Deliveries to our vulnerable customers on the Priority Services Register will continue too.’
Bottled water stations will remain open until 10pm this evening, as a precaution, Southern Water said
Southern Water personnel handing out bottled water in Hampshire
Speaking today, education officer Andy Skinner, from Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, said his family have been left without running water for three days.
The 35-year-old and his partner have three children, aged eight-months, four, and seven.
He said: ‘You don’t realise how much water you use.
‘We can’t flush the toilets, can’t wash clothes, you struggle to wash up and cook. With a baby, you’re struggling to bathe them.’
He explained that he was having to bathe his eight-month-old son Freddie in the sink, but struggled due to the temperature.
‘It’s been very frustrating. You can’t do the things you would normally do. It’s much more difficult than you think it would be.’
Local residents have been collecting bottled water to use for cooking, washing and even flushing their toilets yesterday
Local residents queued for bottled water after their homes were cut off due to a pipe burst on Thursday
Meanwhile Southampton foster carer, Sharon Leggett, 57, said that the children under her care are currently ‘really unwell’, and one young boy has a bad fever.
Visiting a water bottle site in the city, she said: ‘I’ve managed to wash him with the bottled water, but I can’t wash his bed sheets. I’ve obviously had to change them and just rinse them out, but it’s a joke.
‘It’s been really difficult. I was here yesterday too, because I need so much water to wash the kids. It’s not an ideal situation.’
Mike Turner, 36, hasn’t gone to work since Wednesday because the hotel he worked in had no water.
He said: ‘It’s been off for about two days. It’s been such a nightmare. It’s a joke. We pay taxes, and this is what we get.
‘I know it’s not intentional, but still. I can’t even go into work because the hotel where I work, in Chandler’s Ford, has no water. It’s laughable.
‘We had family who were supposed to come down and stay with us for Christmas, but now that’s been cancelled. Our Christmas has been ruined.’
People queuing for bottled water at a station set in Eastleigh, Hampshire, on Thursday
Bottled water stations across the affected area were set up, open daily from 8am to 10pm.
However, there have been claims that bottled water supplies were running low at one station yesterday, and there were long queues for people trying to access it.
Rob Barber, a Southampton resident, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘My understanding is that Southern Water were running out at some of these stations and they had to close to restock.
‘There was an hour wait in one of the stations which obviously is pretty horrendous.’
Angie Perkins, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said her water, which is supplied by South East Water, had been cut off and intermittent since last Thursday, December 15.
The mother, like thousands of others, has collected water from bottled water stations set up around the region in order to shower and wash-up.
She told BBC Radio 4: ‘Everyone’s really worried abut the Christmas situation.
‘Everyone’s got back up plans, plan Bs. I myself was supposed to be hosting Christmas here for eight people.’
Yesterday long queues of motorists formed as they waited to collect bottled water.
Hundreds of motorists formed long queues yesterday to get bottled water at stations set up across Hampshire
Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said the problem had ‘been a long time coming’.
Ms Nokes said customers had reported issues with leaks since the August drought and ‘nothing’s been done about them so you could argue the the problem’s of Southern Water’s own making’.
Speaking on BBC Radio Solent she added: ‘Defra (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) need to have a serious conversation about this in the new year.
‘It is unacceptable.’
‘We’re getting to the point where if we don’t have any end in sight we’re going to seriously have to consider whether we spend Christmas at home or not.’
Southern Water said there would be a restricted supply of water for at least 48 hours as they were under ‘significant pressure’ after rapid thaw from the recent freezing temperatures caused pipes to burst.
It is understood that at least 24,000 householders are affected, with low water pressure or no water at all just days before Christmas.
Emergency bottled water stations have been set up in the impacted areas, and the water supplier has promised to deliver water to vulnerable people who can’t collect it.
This station was set up as two water collection sites in Winchester were too far for some residents in Southampton to travel.
Families queuing up for water on Thursday after burst pipes cut off around 20,000 homes in the south of England just before Christmas
Douglas Whitfield, South East Water’s Incident Director, said: ‘Supplies have been restored to the vast majority of our customers in Kent although we are aware of some smaller, isolated issues which our team is working hard to repair.
‘The picture is also improving in Sussex after our system made a good recovery overnight.
‘Customers in Crowborough and Ashdown should have had their supplies restored and we’re working hard to restore supplies to other impacted areas by later this morning.
‘We’re still urging customers to use water wisely to help us maintain supplies to everyone and to check homes and businesses for leaks. Any leak you find should be fixed as soon as possible to help prevent wasting water.
‘As water returns, it may appear discoloured or cloudy. This is perfectly normal and can be cleared by simply running the cold tap.
Bottled water was being given out to residents yesterday who were left without access to water in their homes due to a burst pipe
‘Please be mindful that discoloured water can be used for things like flushing toilets.
Ofwat, which regulates the industry, said: ‘Freezing weather followed by a swift thaw has led to burst pipes and disruptions to water supply.
‘We need to see water companies stepping up, responding swiftly and offering support and compensation where appropriate throughout a trying period.’
A Water UK spokesperson said: ‘Last weekend’s sudden change to milder weather caused a rapid thawing of burst plumbing in homes and businesses, and increased leaks from buried water mains.
‘Water companies are working around the clock to boost supply while the network refills to normal levels.
‘We don’t expect any further freeze-thaw incidents to occur over the Christmas period as the temperature is forecast to remain stable.
‘Water companies are working hard to resume normal supply to homes and businesses still affected as quickly as possible, while providing bottled water to residents in the meantime. We urge any customers who are concerned about their water supply to get in touch with their local water company.’