Could we still be boiling our water in two months?

Work goes on at the United Utilities laboratory
Work goes on at the United Utilities laboratory

Almost four weeks in and there was still no sign today of Lancashire’s drinking water being declared safe.

But as United Utilities continued to fend off criticism for its “lack of transparency” over the expected length of the boil water alert, frustrated householders were warned they could be in for a long wait.

A scientist has revealed that a similar case of cryptosporidium contamination a decade ago, which blighted the lives of 28,000 families in North Wales, lasted more than TWO MONTHS over the winter of 2005/6.

Homes were advised to boil their drinking water from November to January before the scare was officially at an end. And the source of the contamination, said Lancaster University microbiologist Dr Derek Gatherer, was never identified.

“It is possible we will be in the same situation,” he said. “It could be they will declare an all-clear, but never find out the source. Unfortunately the story is still no further forward than what it was at the beginning.”

In the North Wales incident, 231 cases of illness were confirmed. In Northampton in 2008 there were 22 people taken ill. But by last night Public Health England insisted it had still not had a single verified case in this latest episode.

South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy has expressed her dismay at the lack of information coming out of United Utilities with the alert now entering its fourth week.

“I have pushed United Utilities for a greater degree of transparency,” she said. “I, and other residents, affecte deserve to be more informed on when this can be expected to come to an end.

“There is an understandable level of frustration with United Utilities for continued vague responses when questioned about when this may finish.”

For all our previous coverage on the water contamination situation in Lancashire visit the links below:

Parasite found in water supply

WATER SCARE: What is Cryptosporidium?

Shelves cleared amid water scare

Map issued showing affected areas

Health warning continues after bug is found in water supply

BREAKING: Water warning to last into next week

WATER CHAOS: Compensation claims spark debate

WATER CHAOS: Compensation could be given to residents

‘Why weren’t we told sooner?’

Battle for safe water rages as investigations continue

WATER LATEST: Company pledges to pay compensation ‘to all.’

WATER LATEST: Criminal investigation into contamination

UV ray equipment brought in to kill off water bug

WATER LATEST: Source of crypto contamination found

United Utilities faces £15m compensation bill over water scare