Answers demanded after contaminated tap water scare

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AN investigation has been launched after a contaminated water outbreak hit 12,000 homes for almost 24 hours.

Residents in parts of the Bearsden, Milngavie, Strathblane and Faifley areas were warned not to drink or cook with tap water after higher than expected levels of aluminium were detected at the Burncrooks Water Treatment Works.

Aluminium, which can occur naturally in water, is used in the treatment process to remove impurities.

However, an operational issue meant that these aluminium compounds were not subsequently removed.

At the time of the incident last Friday, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said that it was unlikely that anyone who drank the water would experience any immediate or long-term health effects.

But health bosses advised anyone from the affected areas who developed gastro-intestinal symptoms within 24 hours and were concerned to seek medical advice.

Scottish Water distributed leaflets throughout the affected areas and had staff out in vehicles making announcements over loud speakers.

Distribution points were set up to hand out bottled water.

The alarm was raised last Friday morning and sparked chaos with scenes of panic buying of bottled water at supermarkets and residents claiming they were not kept informed.The quality of water was returned to normal around 8am on Saturday.

This is the second time the Burncrooks Water Treatment Works has been contaminated. Several years ago diesel accidentally leaked into the water.

Marian Brown (74), who lives in Carbeth Road in Milngavie, said: “I would like to know how often the water is tested and how quickly the public were notified. I drank the water in the morning and made a casserole for dinner with it.

“I had my son and his girlfriend staying and she went to bed early the night before with pains in her tummy, which may have been linked to the water.”

A resident in Ferguson Avenue, in Milngavie, hit out at the lack of information. The 63-year-old woman said: “I only found out about it when my friend phoned. I didn’t receive a warning card through the door and the first I heard from Scottish Water was by a loudspeaker at 5pm.

“When I phoned them around 3pm I was told it wasn’t drinkable. When I phoned later I was told I could, but on a third call I was again told not to.

“I realise it’s a big area, but this was a serious issue. I wasn’t notified when the water was safe to drink.”

Scottish Water said that regular samples are taken to ensure the quality of the water and that they are investigating the cause of the high levels of aluminium. A spokesperson apologised if some customers did not receive notification as quickly as others.

Geoff Aitkenhead, Scottish Water’s asset management director, said: “Levels of aluminium in the water supply were raised only for a very short period of time and we acted quickly to take corrective action.

“As soon as the issue came to light we put in place a recovery programme to minimise the impact and reduce levels of aluminium in the water supply.

“We would like to apologise to people in the affected areas.”