Water bosses have been slammed for being too slow to warn consumers about the cryptosporidium contamination which blighted large parts of Lancashire in 2015.
The Drinking Water Inspectorate’s long awaited report into the incident has branded United Utilities’ system for raising the alarm as “wholly inadequate.”
A two-year inquiry discovered that the company had taken five days to write to more than 300,000 customers warning them to boil their drinking water. The scare lasted for four weeks.
And the DWI has recommended a review of the water provider’s emergency procedures to ensure that all affected households and businesses are warned within 24 hours should another incident occur in the future.
“Some consumers interviewed by the Inspectorate confirmed that they were unaware of the advice until written notification was received,” said the 85-page report.
“The company’s contingency plan for responding to a water quality emergency whereby advice to consumers was required was wholly inadequate.
“It is recommended that United Utilities reviews its emergency plans for issuing protective advice to consumers to ensure that these plans adequately cater for the number of consumers supplied by its treatment works to ensure effective communication with all affected consumers with the objective of issuing written advice to all households and other premises within 24 hours of the decision to issue the advice.”
United Utilities was fined £300,000 with £150,000 costs at Preston Crown Court earlier this month after admitting supplying water which was unfit for human consumption originating from its Franklaw plant near Garstang.
A UU spokesman said it had “put technology and processes in place to guard against a repeat of this type of incident.”