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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 17:41 GMT
Tap water health alert
Dover sea front
Heavy rains and storms could have caused the problem
Authorities have warned 10,000 families in Dover, Kent, to boil drinking water after finding bacteria in supplies.

The Folkestone and Dover Water authority says it does not know where the bacteria has come from or whether it is connected to this week's floods.

Managing director Peter Darby told BBC News Online that water should be boiled as a precaution while investigations are carried out.

The cause for concern is that something quite exceptional got into the source

Peter Darby, Folkestone and Dover Water

The "boil order" will only be lifted 24 hours after the water is given the all clear.

"The concern is that this looks likely to be linked to the heavy rainfall over the last few days, and more heavy rain is forecast for the next two days," said Mr Darby.

The "contaminated" source has been shut down and water is being redirected from other sources.

Mr Darby said the treatment works had been working properly.

"The cause for concern is that something quite exceptional got into the source," he said.

"We have to be confident that the water in the system is safe to drink."

He said people drinking water from the tap without boiling it first could risk stomach upsets.

There are no water shortages at present, but Folkestone and Dover Water - along with Three Valleys Water which serves an area North of London - is urging customers to use water sparingly.

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See also:

01 Nov 00 | UK
Flood chaos set to deepen
01 Nov 00 | UK
Misery of no flood barriers
31 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Water health alert over
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