Scientists still don’t know what caused Lancashire’s crypto contamination

Scientists at United Utilities discovered the crypto bug in routine tests
Scientists at United Utilities discovered the crypto bug in routine tests
  • Scientists still don’t know caused Lancashire’s cryptosporidium contamination
  • 280 working days spent investigating the contamination so far
  • Lancashire MP Cat Smith is demanding urgent answers
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Lancashire’s “Watergate” scandal has taken more than 2,200 staff hours to investigate – and still scientists don’t have a clue what caused it.

Now, a year and a half after the dangerous bug cryptosporidium was found in the county’s mains supplies, an “anxious” local MP is demanding urgent answers.

Cat Smith has grilled a government minister about the efforts being put in to solve the mystery which left 300,000 homes and businesses without drinking water for up to a month in 2015.

And in a Commons reply Theresa Coffey, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has revealed staff at the Drinking Water Inspectorate have put in 2,238 hours – the equivalent of 280 working days – trying to identify where the contamination came from. And so far without success.

“I’m as puzzled as the general public are as to what on earth the cause was,” said Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood. “It makes me very anxious as a local MP – if we don’t know what caused it how do you prevent it happening in the future?

“They can only work as fast as they can work and they are clearly putting staff hours into it. But it would be nice if they could let us know when they expect to report. We just want answers.”

The crypto parasite was first identified in water supplies in early August 2015, with the source suspected to be in or near the Franklaw water treatment plant near Garstang.

The independent DWI has consistently declined to comment until its investigation has been completed.