WATER companies are urging customers to use as little water as possible after extreme weather caused problems in the pipe network. 

Thames Water, South East Water, Southern Water and Affinity Water have released a joint statement, warning of shortages across the South East of England. 

The companies said demand for water is exceptionally high due to multiple burst pipes and an increase in leaks following the recent freezing temperatures and rapid thaw.

Significant numbers of customers are currently without water or have low pressure.

The statement said: "We are putting as much extra water as we can into our local networks and fixing leaks and bursts as quickly as possible.

"We sincerely apologise to all those who are currently without water or experiencing low pressure.

"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.

"Please do not use water for anything that isn’t essential. Where possible, take short showers rather than baths, do not leave taps running unnecessarily and only run washing machines and dish washers when you have a full load. This will make a real difference."

The companies are attempting to fix problems for vulnerable customers first and are providing bottled water where necessary. 

People are being asked to check their own pipes for bursts, particularly outside taps which are vulnerable to freezing temperatures.