Crypto crisis water plant is set to get bug-killing gear

Work ongoing: United Utilities installing an ultra-violet rig at the Haighton reservoir
Work ongoing: United Utilities installing an ultra-violet rig at the Haighton reservoir
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WATER bosses are set to install a permanent bug-killing, ultraviolet light device at a treatment plant which was at the centre of last summer’s cryptosporidium crisis.

Chiefs at United Utilities revealed today that the temporary measures put in place at several Lancashire reservoirs will remain until spring when the new system will come on line.

Mobile UV devices were hurriedly installed at water storage centres at Weeton, Warbreck, Westby, Barnacre, Grimsargh and Hoghton to kill off the microscopic parasite which had got into the water supply. Water was contaminated by the bug supplied from the Franklaw water treatment plant at Catterall, near Garstang.

Now water bosses plan to place a UV device at Franklaw to prevent a similar outbreak which saw people at 300,000 home and businesses forced to boil water for 30 days.

Families across the Fylde, Wyre, Preston, Leyland, Chorley had to treat all water for drinking, food preparation and cleaning teeth to avoid being hit by the stomach cramps, sickness and diarrhoea that cryptosporidium can bring on.

Water from Franklaw was quickly found to be running clean but the bug remained in parts of the 2,500 miles of pipes and the storage reservoirs which can contain 500 million litres of water.

To speed up the cleansing process the UV rigs were installed in mid August.

The problem has cost United Utilities at least £25m in compensation payments alone to bill-payers across the county but a final total has not yet been released.

A United Utilities spokesman said: “We will install a brand new ultraviolet device at Franklaw. It is just being constructed now and that should be delivered and up and running by April next year. In the meantime we will be supplying water in the same way we have been doing since we installed the temporary UV rigs with no problems.”

He said the Drinking Water Inspectorate was continuing with its investigations into the cause of the outbreak which began on August 6.

A spokesman for the DWI today confirmed the investigation was still ongoing five months on and would give no indication of when the results would be published.