OPINION

May 16th, 2024

This is a quick follow-up to the letter outlining the drinking water contamination in Devon.

On Monday, South West Water denied the existence of any contamination but today it was disclosed that 16,000 households (40,000 people) are at risk. People have been advised to boil all water, even that used for cleaning teeth, and supplies of bottled drinking water have been trucked in. The affected areas are mostly Brixham and part of Paignton. This has resulted in a major impact on the tourist trade. SW Water offered all households £15 compensation, but after a huge public outcry, it was increased to £115.

A husband says his wife collapsed after drinking water feared to be contaminated with a parasite, as residents in the affected area are warned to boil their mains supplies for at least another week.

Around 16,000 households and businesses in the Brixham area of Devon have been told not to drink their tap water until further notices after dozens fell ill with diarrhoea or vomiting.

The UK Health Security Agency confirmed there had been 22 cases of Cryptosporidium in the area, forcing a primary school to shut and local authorities to issue emergency supplies of bottled water.

Anthony Mangnall, MP for Totnes, which includes Brixham, said he was aware of concerns over the quality of drinking water in the town.

He said: “SWW believe they have located the source of the issue and initiated a fix but are continuing their investigations and will be testing their network to ensure water is safe.

“The boil water notice is therefore likely to be in place for at least a further six or seven days, with bottled water available throughout this period.

“Vulnerable customers and those on the Priority Services Register will continue to receive regular deliveries of bottled water, while those who are unable to access bottled water stations will be able to call SWW to receive a delivery.

The list of symptoms of the waterborne disease provided by the UKHSA includes watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, dehydration, weight loss and fever.

It is most common in young children aged between one and five years, the agency said.

Source The Independent May 16th, 2024.

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South West Water says it is working closely with the UK Health Security Agency and public health partners to “urgently investigate” how Cryptosporidium is getting into its network so it can be fixed.

The firm’s chief customer and digital officer Laura Flowerdew said: “We sincerely apologise for the impact this is having on our customers in the Brixham and Alston areas.

“Protecting the health of our customers and providing them with a clean, fresh drinking water supply is our number one priority and we will continue to work around the clock to make sure that happens as soon as possible.”

Sarah Bird, consultant in health protection at UKHSA Southwest said: “We advise people in the affected areas to follow the advice from South West Water and boil their drinking water and allow to cool before use.

“Anyone with a diarrhoeal illness should drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and if they have severe symptoms like bloody diarrhoea, they should contact NHS 111 or their GP surgery.

“Symptoms include: watery diarrhoea, stomach pains, dehydration, weight loss and fever, which can last for 2-3 weeks. Anyone can get cryptosporidiosis, but it is most common in young children aged between 1 and 5 years and most healthy people will recover fully.

“For most people, Cryptosporidium symptoms can be managed at home without needing medical advice.

“Those affected should stay off school and work for 48hrs since the last episode of illness and away from swimming pools for 14 days after the last episode of illness.”

Source ITV May 16th, 2024.

The likely source of the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Devon has been revealed. Anthony Mangnall, the MP for Totnes, which includes the Brixham area afflicted by the vomiting bug, said that animal waste is believed to have contaminated drinking water in the area.

South West Water (SWW) announced yesterday (Wednesday, May 15) that small traces of cryptosporidium had been detected in the Hillhead area of its network as a result of a damaged air valve. 

The Totnes MP said: “I have just attended a meeting convened by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to receive an update from South West Water and the UK Health Security Agency. SWW believe they have located the source of the issue and initiated a fix but are continuing their investigations and will be testing their network to ensure water is safe.

“The boil water notice is therefore likely to be in place for at least a further six or seven days, with bottled water available throughout this period.

Source Bristol Live 16th May 2024.

Meanwhile ominous words came from Downing Street (as ominous as Rishi Sunak can get),

Rishi Sunak “understands the stress and worry this has caused residents,” a Number 10 spokeswoman has said.

“He’s very clear that this must be investigated thoroughly by the Drinking Water Inspectorate and UK Health Security Agency.

“Any water company that’s found to be in breach of rules on drinking water should expect to face the appropriate enforcement action up to and including criminal prosecution.”

The government has announced a quadrupling of inspections and provided increased powers to Ofwat and the Environment Agency to hold water companies to account, the spokeswoman added.

Source Yahoo 16th May 2024.

No one believes that action will be as strong as that suggested by Sunak but there is every sign that the outbreak is becoming bigger by the day and as soon as there is a death of a frail person or an infant, watch everyone run for cover. That search for a plausible source (other than SW Water) has already started with the suggestion that runoff of animal faeces from a farm and a broken valve may have been the cause.

Ironically, the agency responsible for disposing of the diarrhoea via the sewage system is – yes, it’s SW Water.

We have started to have rain showers; all that is needed now is for the forecast thunderstorms to happen and overload the sewage system, causing sewage to be dumped directly into the sea and rivers. The possibility for further contamination of bathers is now evident.

Brought up in a far-left coal mining community and came to NZ when the opportunity arose. Made a career working for blue-chip companies both here and overseas. Developed a later career working on business...