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Northumbrian Water customers in Darlington are being asked, as a precaution, to boil their water before using it.
This is following a technical fault at Broken Scar Treatment Works, in the early hours of this morning (Tuesday Feb 1), which caused some of the water to leave the site without the correct level of disinfection.
The fault at the treatment works has been fixed. However, as some of the water did enter the water network, we are issuing a precautionary temporary “boil water” notice for customers in the area.
People who live in the following postcode areas should boil their tap water before using it for drinking, cooking, and food preparation, for pets and cleaning teeth. Additionally, water for babies’ feeds should be boiled and allowed to cool immediately before use.
Water should be brought to the boil then allowed to cool and should be kept covered in the fridge and used within 24 hours. People should not use drinking vending machines.
It is safe to use central heating, or tap water for washing and bathing, and to flush the toilet as normal.
People not in the impacted postcodes, and who live in surrounding areas, do not need to boil their water and do not need to take any specific actions.
The problem at the treatment works was identified and corrected quickly and technicians were able to identify exactly where in our networks this water is being distributed.
A full cleansing and flushing programme of the treatment works and networks is now being carried out and customers will be notified by Northumbrian Water as soon as the situation is resolved, and the boil restrictions are lifted. Until then they should continue to boil all drinking water.
Bottled water is being supplied to vulnerable customers and any specific groups in the area who may need it and information notices are being delivered to properties by water company employees who are happy to answer any questions customers may have.
Anyone who thinks they may need bottled water or extra support can ring us on 0345 7171100 and we are asking that people please only ring if an emergency to help keep our phone lines free for vulnerable customers.
Northumbrian Water is working closely with Darlington Borough Council and Public Health England and more information on the boil notices and FAQs can be found on the Northumbrian Water website.
Northumbrian Water’s Water Director Keith Haslett said: “We are extremely sorry that this has happened, and we are urging customers in the affected areas of Darlington to take the extra precaution of boiling their water at this time.
“Although the level of risk to customers is low, we’re not taking any risks and are carrying out a full cleansing programme of the affected networks.
“As soon as the fault was detected, we fixed the process and water is now being treated to the correct standards. However, as some of the water that did not receive the full treatment process it may still be in the system, we are urging people to take these precautions.
“We are doing everything we can to minimise any risk and to resolve this matter as soon as possible and will keep customers in the area informed of our progress.”
If people feel unwell or experience symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting, they should contact NHS 111. If your symptoms become severe, you should contact your GP.
We will keep customers updated through local media, our social media channels and our website – nwl.co.uk.
If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me (details below).
Questions and Answers
What has happened?
A technical fault at Broken Scar Treatment Works, in the early hours of Tuesday, Feb 1, caused some of the water to leave the site without the correct level of disinfection.
The fault at the treatment works has been fixed however as some of the water did get into the water network a precaution a temporary “boil water” notice has been put in place for customers in the area.
When should I boil water?
Boil water for drinking, cooking (in which case, boil the water before adding any ingredients), cleaning teeth, feeding pets and heating baby food. Water can be boiled and left to cool and kept in a clean container. Use this within 24 hours.
Who is at risk?
People living in postcodes DL1 – 1,2,3,4,5, DL2 – 1,2 and DL3 – 0,6,7,8,9 who ingests contaminated water through drinking or cleaning teeth could potentially be at risk.
What is the risk?
While any issue or infection isn’t life-threatening, anybody who has concerns should take advice from their doctor, particularly if they have a weakened immune system or have had a transplant.
What do I do if I feel ill?
Drink plenty of fluids (not water). If you are vomiting or have diarrhoea, drink roughly 200ml for each bout. If this does not pass and you still feel unwell within a few days, call 111.
What if I don’t feel unwell?
Continue to drink plenty of fluids to flush out any potential contaminated water.
Can this affect pets?
Yes, we would advise that the same precautions are taken with pets that are advised for humans. This includes when doing such things as changing the water in fish tanks.
What do I do with food prepared using this water?
As a precaution, any food that has been prepared using water since late Monday evening (March 31) should not be eaten.
I am a parent wondering if it will affect my child’s school tomorrow.
It may do. It is at the discretion of the school so please check with them.
What do I do If I can’t boil my water?
Contact us and we can arrange bottled water of support with this.
Will I be compensated?
We will issue more information to customers in the area on this in the coming days.
What do I do if I have more questions or want to speak to someone?
If you have any other questions, you can contact us on 0345 7171100. Phone lines may be busy and so we’d ask that you only contact us if it is an emergency.
Information from Public Health England
How can we be sure that boiling kills germs?
A Boiling water has been shown to successfully kill a variety of bacteria and other microbes, in a number of different trials. It is accepted by the water industry and the UKHSA as the best method for protecting customers in situations such as this.
Q Why is the BWA necessary?
A Northumbrian Water has identified a problem at a water treatment works which has meant that the water being supplied may not be up to usual standards. There is a low risk that bacteria and other microbes may be present and therefore a precautionary Boil Water Advice notice has been issued to protect the health of anyone using the water for cooking, drinking, food preparation (including washing salads, and preparing infant formula and baby foods), cleaning teeth and wounds, washing dishes and making ice.
Q What should people do if they have symptoms? (for other gastrointestinal illness)
A If you have diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, a fever, or experience nausea and vomiting which lasts for a number of days, you should see your doctor or ring NHS 111.
Q I’ve drunk the water; am I going to be ill/affected? What should I do?
Q Are there any particular groups of people at risk, such as young children or ill people?