Thames Water has been lambasted for failing to give early warning of a two-year, £20million project to replace Victorian water pipes in Croydon town centre.
The replacement works are described as the biggest engineering job in the borough since Tramlink was introduced.
They are expected to bring traffic in the town centre to its knees when work begins in the new year with residents, workers and motorists facing up to two years of congestion misery.
Croydon Council said it was "appalled" by the lack of early warning and said Thames Water's "bombshell" was dropped during an informal meeting earlier this month - despite the company last month denying intentions to carry out work.
Council leader Mike Fisher said: "Although we welcome Thames' investment in dealing with leaks, we are horrified at what this could mean for disruption in the town centre.
"Once again we have been left at the mercy of utilities who appear to be able to do what they want, when they want invariably leaving the council to take the public flak.
Thames' water mains replacement works will be the biggest engineering job in the town since Tramlink was built. That was planned in detail many months ahead with ongoing communication with everyone with an interest.
We will be making every effort to ensure Thames adopts a similar approach to damage limitation and that they co-ordinate their activity with other utilities so that we don't suffer further bouts of disturbance right after they finish."
The area of the works will be between Roman Way, Coombe Road, Mayday Hospital and Cherry Orchard Road. Thames Water is thought to want to carry out all of the work simultaneously.
Croydon Council is calling for strict rules to minimise the disruption, which includes delaying the start of the project until after the January retail sales period and work being carried out 24 hours a day in non-residential areas to get it finished sooner. It also wants to ensure compensation procedures are in place for businesses' lost revenue.
A Thames Water spokesman said:
"Details of the £9million works planned, including street names and expected duration, have still to be finalised, although work is not expected to begin until late January at the earliest. We will continue to liaise with the council and will ensure that the public is kept informed."
Source Croydon Guardian
Pity that they didn't keep us informed about some of the times that they have cut off our water!!!