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 Saturday, 11 January, 2003, 09:37 GMT
Blunder triggered water scare
Water treatment works sign
The water was contaminated with cryptosporidium
A report by a water regulator has exposed a series of blunders during the cryptosporidium scare in Scotland last year.

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) said that thousands of people were exposed to potentially contaminated water because plant workers thought a valve was a water meter.

Clydebank residents received water that might have been contaminated because of the mistake during a cryptosporidium bug scare last year.

Around 150,000 people in the west of Scotland were told to boil their water after cryptosporidium levels rose at the Mugdock Reservoir.

water jug
Customers were advised to boil water

But Clydebank residents were warned several days later than the rest.

The DWQR report praised the actions of staff at the Milngavie water treatment works, which is served by Mugdock, in the run up to the incident.

But it added: "In the event an exemplary piece of planning and execution was spoiled because a valve had been mistaken as a water meter.

"This resulted in an area of Clydebank continuing to receive water from Mugdock reservoir when it was initially thought an alternative supply had been provided."

The report also concluded that Scottish Water narrowly missed being punished over maintenance at a separate water treatment plant at Fairmilehead, near Edinburgh.

Crucial faults

The plant was at the centre of a similar alert around the same time as the Glasgow scares, although a boil water warning was withdrawn after only a few hours because Scottish Water had issued it by mistake.

The DWQR report said there had been a "failure of due diligence" at the plant because crucial faults that were known about had not been solved.

And it said: "Had Scottish Water not acted so promptly following the incident to resolve the outstanding maintenance issues then the DWQR would certainly have had to take enforcement action."

The findings came as the Scottish Executive published new rules for handling public health incidents involving cryptosporidium in the water supply.

In the event an exemplary piece of planning and execution was spoiled because a valve had been mistaken as a water meter

DWQR report
Health minister Malcolm Chisholm said the updated guidance for public agencies was based on advice from an expert group set up by the Executive in the wake of the scares.

He added: "We will also be publishing updated guidance for management of all types of public health incidents for consultation later this month."

A second report was also published today from the incident control team (ICT) set up to look at the events surrounding the scare in Edinburgh.

The report made 15 recommendations and although it confirmed the bug had been found in the water supply, it concluded the water had been safe.

Cryptosporidium is a parasite usually spread by farm animals which is rarely fatal but can cause severe abdominal pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.

See also:

21 Aug 02 | Scotland
07 Aug 02 | Scotland
06 Aug 02 | Scotland
05 Aug 02 | Scotland
05 Aug 02 | Scotland
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