Town's water supply still unsafe

Work will continue this week to restore water supplies to thousands of homes in a Norfolk market town. Householders in North Walsham have had to rely on bottled water or boiling what they take from the tap for the last 10 days after the local water system was contaminated by the cryptosporidium bug, which can cause fever and stomach upsets.

Work will continue this week to restore water supplies to thousands of homes in a Norfolk market town.

Householders in North Walsham have had to rely on bottled water or boiling what they take from the tap for the last 10 days after the local water system was contaminated by the cryptosporidium bug, which can cause fever and stomach upsets.

Anglian Water had hoped to give the local system the all clear at the weekend, but now it seems that householders will have to wait until tomorrow at the earliest before the boil-only rule is lifted.

Last night vital tests on the water supply in the area were still going on.

Anglian Water spokesman Sara Rowland said: "We have now flushed out the two water towers, pipes and main store. We have taken samples of water and are currently carrying out very careful tests at certified laboratories in Huntington.

"They are being carried out overnight but take hours to complete. Until the results come back all-clear we will not be taking any chances and lifting the boil ban.

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"When it comes to families, it simply isn't worth taking the risk. I'm sure the public understand that this is all happening because their health is our priority.

"People are working through the night. We cannot go any faster, without cutting corners, than we are."

Six thousand properties including homes, businesses, schools and playgroups, are using boiled or bottled water for drinking, teeth cleaning and food preparation.

The problem came about because water supplies were contaminated during heavy flooding on Friday, June 17, when the cryptosporidium bug was washed down a borehole at Coldham Hall.

A boil rule was put in force that night and the water company employees worked until 5am alerting residents to the problem with loudspeakers and letters.

More than 1,000 people have already visited Anglian Water's mobile information vehicle seeking help and advice.

Elderly, vulnerable or those considered in desperate need are being given free bottled water, but thousands of people are still having to either boil or buy their water.

Murray Thexton, joint licensee at the Orchard Gardens, on Mundesley Road, said: "It's a relief this is almost over but Anglian Water have not dealt with it well.

"Some people didn't find out about the ban until a few days on when they'd already drunk a lot of water.

"They say there's free water if you qualify but they're not proactive in providing it. If an old lady can't afford to buy water, how is she going to afford to go and pick it up from them?

"They're expecting her to carry four litres of water a few miles back home and that shouldn't be the case."

And kennels, farmers, pubs and restaurants have also struggled to make ends meet since the ban, because of the extra cost of the water.

Local supermarkets have reported a huge increase in demand for water and are now forced to limit the amount sold to individuals.

Mrs Rowland said: "Obviously we apologise for the inconvenience and understand how difficult it must be for the customers.

"This shows how seriously we take our responsibility. As soon as we knew there was a problem we took action.

"When this has happened elsewhere it has taken companies months to sort it out.

"And things are looking promising. The water should be back on in the next couple of days."

Anglian Water's mobile inform-ation vehicle is open daily from 9am to 5pm, in New Road car park, North Walsham. The company can also be contacted on 08457 145145.

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