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South West Water refuses to say when boil water notice will be lifted after disease outbreak

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Published Time: 16.05.2024 - 19:40:53 Modified Time: 16.05.2024 - 19:40:53

A disease outbreak in drinking water supplies in south Devon has left 16,000 people unable to use their tap water without boiling it as South West Water scramble to solve the issuewhich may have been caused by cow faeces leaking into water pipes

A disease outbreak in drinking water supplies in south Devon has left 16,000 people unable to use their tap water without boiling it as South West Water scramble to solve the issuewhich may have been caused by cow faeces leaking into water pipes.

Thursday 16 May 2024 17:33, UK

A South West Water boss has refused to give a timeline on when a notice to boil tap water will be lifted after a parasite was found in a key reservoir.

Speaking to Sky News, Laura Flowerdue, the company's chief customer officer, confirmed the suggestion it was likely a broken air valve that had been contaminated by animal faeces that had caused the incident that had left dozens ill and thousands unable to drink tap water.

However, she refused to give a timeframe on how long the incident would run on forleaving thousands of residents facing an uncertain future.

She said: "We're still working through the operational processes to ensure we can absolutely link the root causes.

"We then need to take steps to repair any damage and then make sure we flush any issues through the network ... before we lift the notice."

When pressed on how long it would take, she said: "We are working hard to be able to give more decisive information about that timeline.

"At this stage we absolutely want to ensure we're giving the right information to customers."

This comes after residents in parts of south Devon were told to boil their drinking water on Wednesday after the water firm found "small traces" of the parasite cryptosporidiumwhich causes cryptosporidiosisin the Hillhead reservoir.

At first, they said the water was safe to drink, but then backtracked and had to issue a boil notice to 16,000 households and businesses in Brixham, Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and North West Paignton.

The UK Health Security Agency said 22 people are confirmed to have the disease, with as many as 70 other cases under investigation.

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Ms Flowerdue added: "We have identified that there is a damaged air valve on the network near the Hillhead Reservoir. But we absolutely want to make sure that's the only source of the contamination.

"We understand this a valve on one of the pipes heading towards the reservoir in a farmer's field, there are cattle in the field and it's a possibility that's the source of the contamination."

South West Water previously apologised for the disease outbreak in Devon after the parasite was found in the key reservoir.

The water company belatedly increased the compensation offered to affected customers from £15 to £100 to "say sorry for the stress and worry the situation has caused".

Amid the chaos caused by the parasite-ridden water, one primary school closed its doors due to not having drinking water.

The local council confirmed that Eden Park Primary School shut their doors Thursdaybut said they were thought to be the only school to have done so.

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Reporting from Brixham, Sky News also found one woman had to rush her son, 13, to the hospital over the outbreak.

GPs in the area have seen an increased number of calls, and at points run by South West Water, families are only allowed a maximum of six litres of water.

But demand is high, with the queue for one site stretching over half a mile.


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Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall has been outspoken over the incident which has affected his constituents.

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