Thousands of Brixham residents continue to boil water after parasite outbreak

Thousands of residents must continue to boil their tap water before drinking it following a parasite outbreak in Devon.

South West Water (SWW) said it would not lift the “boil water” notice in place for around 2,500 homes in Brixham “until we and our public health partners are completely satisfied it is safe to do so”.

About 17,000 households and businesses in the area, supplied by SWW, had been told not to use their tap water for drinking without boiling and cooling it first.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said on Friday this number had reached 46.

David Harris, incident director at South West Water, said: “Our teams on the ground continue to work as quickly as we can to resolve the situation in the Hillhead supply area, where we are still advising around 2,500 properties to boil their drinking water before consuming.

Coronavirus – Sat May 30, 2020
Anthony Mangnall, Conservative MP for Totnes, had previously said ‘heads are going to roll’ (Claire Hayhurst/PA)

“We are working 24 hours a day, and early this morning we commenced flushing of the wider Hillhead network as we work to eliminate any traces of cryptosporidium.

“We will not lift the boil water notice in Hillhead until we and our public health partners are completely satisfied it is safe to do so.”

The microscopic parasite which caused the waterborne disease likely entered the water network through a damaged air pipe in a field containing cattle, the company previously said.

The number of confirmed cases is expected to continue rising for up to two more weeks because of a delay in symptom development caused by the parasite’s incubation period.

SWW said an additional £100 compensation will be paid to customers in the areas which continue to be affected – bringing the total to £215.

Brixham contaminated water
Store owner Sally Dart described South West Water as ‘appalling’ (Piers Mucklejohn/PA)

Sally Dart, who runs homewares shop Flotsam 50 near Brixham Harbour, told the PA news agency that business was “probably 30 to 40% down” and described the water company as “appalling”.

Ms Dart said locals first felt symptoms after a busy, pirate festival held in the town between May 4 and 6.

Referring to SWW, she added: “They knew they had this problem – obviously the reservoir couldn’t cope for some reason or another, it was getting all the stuff off the field into it.

People collecting bottled water
People collecting bottled water (Ben Birchall/PA)

Three stations continue to offer safe bottled water to customers alongside direct deliveries to vulnerable customers, schools, hospitals and care homes.

Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall, whose Totnes constituency includes Brixham, had previously told PA that SWW’s response to the outbreak was “contemptible and just generally incompetent”.

The company said affected residents can continue to use their tap water as normal for washing, bathing and flushing the toilet.

The disease can be picked up directly from the faeces of another person or animal, from swimming in or drinking contaminated water, or by eating contaminated food such as unwashed vegetables.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –