Water health alert in north Norfolk

RICHARD BATSON Thousands of people in north Norfolk face being without drinkable tap water for the rest of the week as officials check for a possible bug.

RICHARD BATSON

Thousands of people in north Norfolk face being without drinkable tap water for the rest of the week as officials check for a possible bug.

People living in more than 6,000 properties - the whole of North Walsham and the North Walsham Road area of the nearby village of Felmingham - have been told to boil their tapwater until further notice, which could be the end of the week.

It follows an alarm at a local borehole which showed a possible trace of cryptosporidium bacteria, which could cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea.

And the problem, with a bug which can be found in soil or faeces, may have been washed into the system by the recent spate of storms and downpours.

Swanton Abbot and Skeyton were also included in the initial scare but were quickly given the all clear.

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Officials are looking at doing extra treatment of the water supplies, followed by flushing the system, and further tests.

Anglian Water's head of external communications Andrew Macintosh said it was “very rare” incident, and he could not remember another across the authority's huge patch covering 5m customers.

“There might not be anything wrong with the water, but we cannot take the risk. People can use it for bathing, washing and flushing the toilet. But it should be boiled and cooled for drinking and food preparation,” he explained.

Boiled water was also needed for teeth cleaning and for pet drinking bowls.

“We send our apologies to everyone affected. It will be inconvenient for them, but we cannot take any risks with public health.”

An information caravan was in the town this weekend, and cards were put through the doors of the properties involved giving them advice on what to do.

A further card would following giving the all clear, but it might not be until Friday, added Mr Mackintosh

Only people with medical needs and places like hospitals, care homes and schools would be provided with bottled water by AW.

Others would have to boil or buy their own, and supermarkets in the area are limiting the amount of water being sold to individuals because of the high demand.

t More storms on Saturday saw lighting strikes affect about a dozen pumping stations across Norfolk, including Aylsham, resulting in reduced water pressure while they were reset.