Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Water supply issues in Brixham area

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South West Water has lifted the boil notice for the Alston supply area of Brixham, covering 14,500 households.

The boil notice remains for around 2,500 properties in Hillhead, upper parts of Brixham and Kingswear who are advised to continue to boil their drinking water before consuming it.

The boil notice was initially put in place after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed it is investigating cases of cryptosporidium. This has impacted customers in the Alston and Hillhead areas of the network, which supplies customers in Brixham, Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and North West Paignton.

Rolling updates from South West Water include information on bottled water collection points for the public. Bottle stations remain open from 7am to 9pm. The company is also still undertaking deliveries to vulnerable customers, care homes, schools and hospitals.

The company had already confirmed that household customers who have been issued with the Boil Water Notice will now receive an automatic payment of £115 by 21 May. Customers affected in the Hillhead, upper parts of Brixham and Kingswear area over the weekend and into next week will be paid an additional £100 compensation – giving each customer a total of £215.

Those still impacted by the boil notice are advised to continue boiling tap water and allowing it to cool before drinking. This applies to water used for drinking, cooking, preparing food or brushing teeth. Boiled water can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. You may use normal tap water for washing, bathing and toilet flushing.

Ministers are receiving regular updates on the situation and meeting with senior representatives from South West Water and the local authority to ensure every step is taken to resolve the situation and return clean water supplies as soon as possible.

Water Minister Robbie Moore said:

“I have been advised that the boil notice has now been lifted for 14,500 properties in the Alston supply area, however I urge those in Hillhead, upper parts of Brixham and Kingswear to continue to boil their water and follow health advise.

“I am still receiving regular updates South West Water, who are working with the Drinking Water Inspectorate and UK Health Security Agency to rectify to problem. We need South West Water to resolve this issue and ensure clean water returns to the Brixham area as soon as possible.

“I am also working with the local authority, MPs and other partners locally to ensure the local community is supported during this time.”

A spokesperson for the Drinking Water Inspectorate said:

“The Drinking Water Inspectorate has been informed of reports of illness affecting supplies in the Brixham, Devon area. South West Water are investigating these reports and are working with the relevant health authorities. The Inspectorate has been notified of the potential contamination of drinking water and is investigating the cause, extent, and actions of the company. 

“Consumers should follow the company’s advice if they are within the affected area and should contact South West Water if they require further information.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said:

“The Environment Agency is engaged locally with UK Health Security Agency and South West Water who are responding to cases of cryptosporidium that have been reported in Brixham, Devon. We urge residents to follow any advice given.”

Dr Bayad Nozad, Consultant in Health Protection at UKHSA, 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.

“For most people, cryptosporidium symptoms can be managed at home without needing medical advice and we are aware of further reports of illness above our confirmed numbers.

“Please do not contact medical services to report cases unless you need urgent clinical care. If your symptoms last longer than 7 days, or if you experience more severe symptoms such as blood in your poo, please contact your doctor who may recommend taking a sample for testing.

“Those with symptoms should stay off nursery, school and work for 48 hours since the last episode of illness and anyone with diarrhoea should not go swimming for 14 days after the last episode of illness. This is really important to stop further spread of the illness from person to person.

“We also advise that people wash their hands thoroughly when handling food and after using the toilet, to help prevent the spread of further infection.”

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. Symptoms usually last for about two weeks but can be longer, especially in people with weak immune systems. Anyone can get cryptosporidiosis but it is most common in young children aged between 1 and 5 years, and most people will recover fully.

Further information:

  • The latest updates and advice can be found on South West Water’s website.
  • Public health advice on what is cryptosporidium and how can it be treated.
  • South West Water has announced it will be increasing its compensation to £115 for customers in Brixham in recognition of the impact to them following the detection of cryptosporidium in the area.
  • For businesses impacted by the current boil water notice, South West Water have set up a dedicated line for retailers and businesses about the incident and to discuss any impact on their businesses. The number is 03332 343 293 and the line is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
  • Further information and advice on diarrhoea and vomiting.

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