Four utility companies in the UK have reported “exceptionally high levels of demand” for water after customers reported hundreds of pipe bursts and leaks across their networks, according to a joint statement released on Monday.
Thames Water, South East Water, Southern Water, Affinity Water appealed to customers to avoid all but essential water use until further notice.
“We are putting as much extra water as we can into our local networks and fixing leaks and bursts as quickly as possible,” it said.
“Right now we really need all our customers’ support and understanding to help us rebuild supplies in our networks for everyone as quickly as possible.”
At its peak, more than 20,000 homes across the UK had no running water. The figure has since reduced to 12,000 households which are still affected, according to Thames Water.
Until the pipe networks have been restored, people are being advised to take short showers rather than baths, run washing machines only on full loads and ensure taps do not run unnecessarily.
They have also been asked to check their own pipes for damage and to call a plumber if needed.
Bottled water stations have been setup across London and South East England to alleviate the effects of the crisis.
A disabled woman queuing for water in Streatham, south London, told Sky News: "You can't go to the toilet, you can't make tea.
"Water is an essential part of life.
"You don't realise until something like this happens how much you actually need it."
Some schools in the capital were also closed on Monday, citing concerns over water shortages.
Dunraven School in Lambeth tweeted late on Sunday: “Due to this ongoing issue, we will have to be closed tomorrow, Mon 5 March.
“We’d hoped things would have been resolved by now. No water on either site means we can’t open the school.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan voiced anger at the situation on Twitter, saying it was “unacceptable” that people still lacked running water on Monday.
He added: “I have sought assurances from @ThamesWater that they are doing everything possible to fix the problems and get the supply switched back on as soon as possible.”
Burst pipes and water shortages have also been reported in south Wales.
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water said in a statement on Monday that they were “still facing some unprecedented challenges across our network and have received a significant number of calls” from customers since Thursday.
They added that water supply issues would likely continue over the next few days, warning that ground movement from thawing ice could damage pipes further.