Bristol Water has issued residents with a “boil water notice”, which may remain in place until Monday (15 January), after the discovery of the cryptosporidium bug at its Clevedon treatment works.
The company said it had completed a door drop and issued a boil notice card to 7,000 affected properties.
Ben Newby, customer service director at Bristol Water, said: “From 5pm on Thursday (11 January) we had over 50 employee volunteers door dropping notices to 7,000 properties affected.
“We want to thank our volunteers, and the supportive response we are getting from the community. We want to highlight that this is a precautionary measure and we are working alongside Public Health England (PHE) to follow procedures to ensure the safety of our customers.”
The company said it is also working the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) to remove the boil notice “as soon as possible.”
Bristol Water said it is aiming to confirm the boil notice removal on Monday morning, subject to the results of samples, which will be taken and tested from the water source over the weekend and approval from PHE.
In the meantime, customers are being urged to continue to boil water and follow usage guidance.
One test result from the raw water quality samples taken at Clevedon treatment works detected cryptosporidium and the company issued the boil water advice as a “precaution”. The treatment works has been taken out of operation and water is being supplied from a different treatment works.
Bristol Water said it is supplying bottled water to “vulnerable customers” and had contacted schools directly.
Clevedon School, St John the Evangelist School and Mary Elton Primary School, all in Clevedon, were closed on Friday (12 January).
As part of the water company’s customer promise, compensation of £10 will automatically be paid to all affected customers.
David Heath, western chair for the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Safeguarding customers’ health should always be the top priority whenever there is a potential risk to tap water supplies so we support Bristol Water’s precautionary approach and the actions they have taken.
“We’re monitoring the situation closely to ensure Bristol Water continues to prioritise the needs of vulnerable customers. We expect the company to honour its pledge to compensate affected customers as soon as the boil water notice is lifted.”
Public Health England said the level of cryptosporidium detected in the water supply was low and the advice to boil the water was a precaution.
Bristol Water, said: “We apologise to customers for this disruption, but any potential risk to health is our number one priority. We immediately shut the treatment works down once we had the initial result. Hopefully, the boil notice will only be in place for a short period, but every precaution needs to be taken to ensure the safety of our customers.”
Sue Pennison, principal inspector at the Drinking Water Inspectorate, told Utility Week: “The Drinking Water Inspectorate has been notified, by Bristol Water, of the detection of cryptosporidium in a source supplying Clevedon works near Bristol. The company have taken the source out of supply and have issued advice to boil water to consumers.”
Bristol Water said it will not be able to lift the boil notice until samples have been confirmed negative and the company has completed flushing the network.
Graham Williams, head of water quality, Bristol Water, said: “As standard practise we take daily samples for analysis. The PHE will monitor and confirm the approval of the boil notice. We will also continue with our flushing programme where we run off the water in the zone affected. We will continue with the advice to boil water as a precaution.”
He added: “We are working hard to ensure all customers affected are informed and kept up to date.”
In October last year, the DWI urged United Utilities to carry out a full review of its emergency and contingency plans in light of the cryptosporidium outbreak it experienced in 2015.
The incident, which directly affected 712,000 residents and consumers in North Lancashire, was the largest of its kind in Britain since 1989, according to DWI’s investigation report.