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Unfit tap water cases on the rise

NEWS

WATER COMPANIES have been heavily criticised by the Drinking Water Inspectorate this week following an 18% rise in the number of incidents affecting water quality.

There were 120 pollution incidents in 1998 compared to 102 in 1997, the chief drinking water inspector Michael Rouse said yesterday in his annual report to government. An estimated 4M people received discoloured water, mainly due to problems during connection and improvement work on distribution systems.

Speaking to NCE on Tuesday Rouse said water companies should have a better understanding of their distribution systems and plan their work to avoid supplying customers with unfit water.

'I will continue to take a tough line through prosecutions to encourage companies to put their houses in order,' he said.

Last year 11 water companies were prosecuted, all resulting in convictions. Two others were cautioned. Ten of the prosecutions and both cautions were for supplying water unfit for human consumption. The other prosecution was for a company's failure to observe the required conditions of approval for the use of epoxy resin materials to line water mains.

The highest fines - a total of £41,500 - went to Welsh Water for supplying highly discoloured water in mid 1997. But Rouse said that since then the company had 'become a model for others.'

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