People living in areas affected by contaminated water must still boil it before they drink or use it for cooking, say Yorkshire Water.
‘High levels’ of bacteria were detected in the DN8 postcode in Doncaster, which includes Thorne, Sandtoft and Moorends and affects almost 4,000 households, on Friday (July 29).
The utility firm apologised for ‘ongoing problems’ with the water supply and originally said people should not drink tap water.
A spokesman said yesterday (July 30) people could now use their tap water for drinking or cooking if they boiled it first. And so far, the warning is still in place.
The new advice followed results of further water quality checks and consultation with Public Health England.
The affected areas are in postcodes starting with: DN8 4B; DN8 4D; DN8 4E; DN8 4H; DN8 4J; DN8 4L; DN8 4N; DN8 4P; DN8 4Q; DN8 4R; DN8 4S; DN8 4S; DN8 4T; DN8 5A; DN8 5B; DN8 5D; DN8 5E; DN8 5F; DN8 5G; DN8 5J; DN8 5N; DN8 5Q; DN8 5R; DN8 5S; DN8 5T
The spokesman said: “Further laboratory tests have confirmed that the water, once it has been boiled, is now safe to drink. But we must emphasise that it has to be boiled first.
“This should significantly reduce the inconvenience being felt by these customers, as it means that they won’t have to go and fetch alternative supplies. They can use the water supply directly from their taps as long as it is boiled first.
“The protection of public health is our number one priority and we will only lift the new advice to boil the water as soon as it is safe to do so. We will also continue to distribute bottled water directly to the homes of our vulnerable customers.”
The spokesman added: “Customers in Thorne may notice elevated levels of chlorine, which is used safely as part of normal water treatment processes. This slight increase in chlorine levels may result in the water having a slight odour, but it is safe to drink once boiled.”
So far more than 100,000 litres of bottled water have been delivered, with more on its way. But with the new advice, collection points are slowly being phased out.
A collection point will remain at Moorends Hotel until all the bottled water has been distributed, and a new collection point has been set up at Trinity Academy School, Thorne. From 3.30pm, this will be the sole distribution point for alternative supplies of water, but this water must also be boiled before consumption.
The spokesman said: “We are continuing to identify the exact cause of the contamination, with investigations focussed on a local industrial estate in the area.”
Several people have contacted the Star to say they felt unwell after drinking water in the affected area. A Yorkshire Water spokesman said tests were ongoing, with samples being sent to be analysed.
“But it does take time to get results from the samples,” he added. “We are expecting results through the weekend. When we understand the full picture we will be in a positive to give an update.”
The spokesman said rumours that there was mercury in the water were incorrect.
“I can confirm categorically that it is not mercury. I can refute that and put people’s minds at rest,” he said.
Some supermarkets in the area sold out of bottled water last night, and police have been called out to some water points after ‘mayhem’ was caused when hundreds of people turned up to the two free water locations.
Yorkshire Water said: “We are also planning to deploy small storage tanks in some streets later today which customers will be able to draw water from. The water in these tanks will need to be boiled before use.
“We would appeal to customers to only take what water they need and to help any vulnerable neighbours or friends in the affected areas.
“Yorkshire Water has been working through the night carrying out further investigations into the cause of the contamination; flushing the local water supply system and carrying out further quality tests.
“The results of these tests are due back early this afternoon when we will be in a position to issue a further update to customers.
“Letters with additional information are being hand-delivered to affected properties this morning.
“In the meantime, we will continue to keep customers updated through social media, local TV and radio – the fastest method of disseminating information.”
The firm added in official information: “The risk of becoming ill from your tap water is low. Should you have any concerns about your health, please seek advice from your doctor.
“Alternative supplies are being proactively delivered to customers on our register of vulnerable customers.
“More bottled water for the general public is due to be delivered to two locations in the village very shortly tonight and will be replenished throughout the weekend on a regular basis. These locations are highlighted below within the map. Additional bottled water collection points may be established throughout the weekend.”
Rachel Marklew, aged 28, from Thorne, is one of those affected by the tap water ban.
The school teacher is 21 weeks pregnant and has been drinking the tap water all day - and feeling unwell.
She said: “I have had several glasses of tap water today and a couple of cups of tea and I’ve been feeling unwell all day.
“As soon as I saw it on Facebook I Tweeted Yorkshire Water and when I said I’m pregnant, they rang me straight away.”
Rachel says residents have been fighting in the supermarkets in Doncaster to get hold of bottled water.
She added: “My mum went to Sainsbury’s in Thorne and she said it was carnage. There were people fighting over the water and it quickly sold out.”
Residents have been told they may face an entire weekend without water, Rachel added.
“It’s awful, we can’t even cook with it, and I can’t eat fruit or veg that hasn’t been washed because I’m pregnant, but I can’t wash it in tap water.”
She added that she’s worried that many elderly residents who don’t use Facebook or Twitter may be unaware of the no drinking notice, and said that her mum had been visiting older neighbours to give out water.
The cause of the contamination is not yet known, or how long it may be in place for.
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