Water alert may not be lifted for days yet

The water alert which has blighted parts of Lancashire moved into its third week today, still without an end in sight.

Thursday, 20th August 2015, 8:00 am
STILL TESTING: Franklaw Water Treatment Plant near Garstang

United Utilities reported “no change” in the situation which has left around 300,000 households and businesses having to boil supplies for drinking and food preparation.

In fact the company, which has been installing ultra-violet rigs around the network to kill off the last traces of the cryptosporidium bug, admitted the equipment had still not been switched on late yesterday, meaning the restrictions could continue for a few more days yet.

“The UV rigs won’t be operational until towards the end of the week,” said a spokesman. “A decision on lifting the boil water alert is not imminent. It is so hard to say what the timescale will be.”

United Utilities has come under increasing criticism for the time it is taking to return the water supply to a drinkable condition.

The company has promised to compensate all consumers - households and businesses - but as restrictions continued into a 15th day today there was still no further news on that either.

“Our focus is on getting the supplies back to normal first before we look into that,” explained the spokesman. “We will be giving compensation, but a meeting to decide that hasn’t been held yet. That won’t happen until the alert is lifted and things are back to normal.”

The company says it has now “identified and isolated” the source of the cryptosporidium contamination. But it is continuing to warn consumers in Preston, South Ribble, Chorley, the Fylde Coast and Mellor, Samlesbury and Mellor Brook to carry on boiling water until all traces of the bug have been eliminated from the network.

A United Utilities spokesman told customers on its Twitter feed yesterday: “We have identified and isolated what we believe to be the source. But it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment further as this will be subject to formal investigations.”

It was revealed on Monday that the probe into the contamination, which is believed to centre on the Franklaw Water Treatment Plant near Garstang, is being treated as a “criminal investigation.”

The Drinking Water Inspectorate is carrying out a detailed inquiry, but this does not involve the police.The DWI has power to bring criminal prosecutions if it finds anyone could be culpable. The alert, which followed the region’s first positive tests for cryptosporidium in drinking water for at least 15 years, was introduced on Thursday August 6.

For all our previous coverage on the water contamination situation in Lancashire visit the links below: