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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK
Contaminated water fine
Water tap
Customers complained about the water's colour
Anglian Water has been fined 21,000 after supplying water that was unfit for human consumption to 14,000 customers in mid-Bedfordshire.

The company received nearly 3,000 calls of complaint after water contaminated with sediment came through taps in the Meppershall, Shefford and Lower Stondon areas of Bedfordshire last August.

Anglian Water admitted supplying water unfit for human consumption at Bedford Magistrates Court.

The company was also ordered to pay 7,345 towards the prosecution's costs.

Internal alarms

The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), which brought the prosecution, said in a statement it had interviewed a number of complainants who all claimed the water was undrinkable because of its appearance.

But it stressed there was no suggestion the water would have affected their health.

The DWI said the water became contaminated after the Anglian Water centre did not respond quickly to internal alarms signalling a water tower was emptying.

The result was an alteration in the flows to water mains, which stirred up naturally-occurring sediments within the system.

Michael Rouse, chief inspector of the DWI, said: "This demonstrates our firm commitment to maintaining high drinking water quality, and ensuring that safeguarding public health remains our top priority."

In a statement, Anglian Water said: "We very much regret that the appearance of the water gave our customers any cause for concern.

"To prevent a repeat occurrence we have reviewed our system and procedure and have undertaken staff retraining."

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