E.coli in tap water hits thousands of homes in Surrey and Kent after water firms were told they could scrimp on sewage treatment chemicals due to supply crisis
- SES Water has identified 443 postcodes that could be affected by the bacteria
- Customers are being advised to boil water while further tests are carried out
- The water supply company said the issue was discovered during routine tests
- A spokesperson said it has contacted ‘vulnerable customers as its first priority’
Tap water in thousands of homes in Surrey and Kent could be contaminated by E.coli with residents being advised to boil their water before drinking it.
SES Water identified 443 postcodes in Redhill, Oxted, Godstone, Limpsfield and Sevenoaks that could be affected by the potentially deadly bacteria.
Water firms had been told by the government last month that they could cut back on the amount of chemicals used to protect water because of Brexit-related supply problems.
The issue was uncovered during routine tests and customers are being advised to boil their water while further tests are carried out.
A spokesperson for the water supply company said it has reached out to ‘a list of vulnerable customers as its first priority’.
Tap water in thousands of homes in Surrey and Kent could be contaminated by E.coli with residents being advised to boil their water before drinking it (file photo)
SES Water identified 443 postcodes (areas illustrated above) in Redhill, Oxted, Godstone, Limpsfield and Sevenoaks that could be affected by the potentially deadly bacteria
The government was warned about shortages in chemicals required to protect the water supply and advised companies to stretch their supplies to cover any deficiencies.
On September 6, the Environment Agency reduced safety levels on drinking water to deal with the ongoing supply crisis.
In a statement released this morning, SES Water said: ‘The issue was discovered during routine tests, and our teams are working to investigate the problem and restore supplies to their usual high standards.
‘While we await further test results which will confirm the scale of any contamination, customers should boil their water – and then let it cool – before using it for drinking, preparing food or cleaning their teeth.
‘Pets should also be given boiled tap water. Boiled water can be kept in the fridge, and should be covered and used within 24 hours.’
The company is advising customers to use water as normal for washing, showering and bathing.
SES Water first issued the boil notice at around 4.30pm yesterday, saying that as of last night it had received no reports of any customers falling ill.
E.coli – full name Escherichia coli – is a bacteria commonly found in people’s bodies and which usually does not cause any illness.
The issue was uncovered during routine tests and customers are being advised to boil their water while further tests are carried out (file photo of E.coli)
However, it can cause infection in the gut or urinary tract infections (UTIs) which can have unpleasant symptoms.
Diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever are all common effects, while more serious cases of the infection can cause bloody diarrhoea, dehydration, kidney failure and death, although this is rare.
Young children, the elderly and those with risk factors such as weakened immune systems or decreased stomach acid levels are more likely to develop problems if exposed to the bacteria.
The NHS states: ‘Anyone who has had an E. coli O157 infection should stay away from work or school until they have been completely free of symptoms for 48 hours.
‘Most people are no longer infectious after about a week, although some people, particularly children, may carry E. coli O157 for several months after they have got better.’
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