Families forced to shower in garden after months of no running water

Families have been living without running water for months, with one man forced to take showers in his garden.

Residents have endured 10 weeks waiting to connect to a main water supply, boiling water to wash up and carrying buckets upstairs to flush the toilet.

One elderly resident is having to choose between standing in a bowl of water, or driving to her daughter’s house just to have a wash.

The houses usually draw water from a nearby well but the source recently dried up.

Jean Mulhall, 88, said it is taking a toll on her mental health and that she has been prescribed anxiety medication over the ordeal.

“I’m nearly 89. It’s just hard. It’s awful,” she told Manchester Evening News.

“I’ve been to the doctors and he’s put me on some tablets to calm me down.

“It’s terrible. My husband died in 2019 and it’s so hard. I’m going up to my daughters to have a shower.

“Otherwise, I have to take a bowl of water upstairs and put in the bath, or stand in a bowl of water and have a shower.”

Jean, from Oldham in Greater Manchester, said she has to carry a full bucket of water upstairs every time she needs to use the toilet.

Bottled water is being provided by United Utilities, but not being connecting to a main supply is taking a toll.

“We got a first lot of water, then within a week they sent another big lot out,” Jean said.

“It’s hard because you have to boil pans of bottled water to wash up and then pour some of the bottled water to cool it down.

“Then when it’s washed up, you put it in a bucket and take it up and put it in the loo but it doesn’t even flush properly.

“You’re doing it loads of times, it’s horrible. It’s absolutely terrible.”

Fellow resident Martin Fielding has also resorted to washing from a bucket but sometimes showers in his garden by pouring bottled water over him.

“During the heatwave, I lay some bottles out and when they heated up I stood out in the garden with a bar of soap,” he said.

“We’ve got a 90-year-old woman who can’t even get a drink of water.”

Glenice Summerscales, 79, said the situation is “horrendous” and has left her feeling as though she is just existing.

She added: “We’re really upset it’s taking so long and it’s not even our fault.

“I’m at my wits end. It’s not worth getting up in the morning.

“It’s not worth getting out of bed. You get your feet on the floor and think, ‘Oh God, I have no water for cleaning’.

“You can get up in the morning and use seven bottles. The water goes nowhere.

“We use one two-litre bottle just on drinking water for our dog. We’re not youngsters anymore and it’s hard work, it’s really hard work.

“I use mouthwash to rinse my mouth out after washing my teeth because there’s no water.

“We have to boil hot water, put it in a bowl and then put cold water in and have a strip wash – that’s all we can do. We must stink.

“When you’re at our age, you want luxury. We did this when we were 10 years old and that’s what we’ve gone back to.

“They’re not real people who run this world. It’s all about money. It’s horrendous. Life is just not good. We’re just existing.

“My hairdresser is supplying my water. I have to go to the laundrette twice a week. You can’t imagine the sympathy we’ve had off people.”

Glenice’s husband Jim, 83, is also currently having to wash from a bucket of water.

“We shouldn’t have been left like this,” he added.

“It’s been terrible, we have to wash out of a bucket of water.

“It’s not been easy at all. The thing I miss the most is the shower. Last weekend it started raining and we thought ‘hip hip hooray.’

“Then it dried up again. We’re praying for rain. I was doing a rain dance the other night.”

United Utilities said delays to the connection work was caused by faulty pipework.

A United Utilities spokesperson said: “We understand the frustration the residents have at the time it has taken to try and be connected to the mains network.

“Unfortunately, the pipework laid out by the private contractor requires significant remedial works before it can be connected to the water main.

“We are continuing to work closely with the residents and contractor to provide assistance to ensure this issue is resolved as quickly as possible.”