Fylde still high and dry in the water crisis

The Franklaw water plant
The Franklaw water plant

People across large swathes of the Fylde are still having to boil their water despite a further 86,000 homes being declared safe.

United Utilities said more county homes were now free from the cryptosporidium parasite which has been contaminating water supplies since August 6.

United Utilites' Gary Dixon

United Utilites' Gary Dixon

The second batch of houses declared safe covered Preston, Chorley and South Ribble but despite the water company having installed ultraviolet sterilising equipment at three locations on the Fylde, people in the coastal area were still being warned to boil their water or risk stomach upsets and worse.

The problems began at the Franklaw Water Treatment plant at Catterall in Wyre but company bosses said today it would not be shut down.

A criminal investigation is still ongoing at the Franklaw works more than three weeks after contamination was found in supplies. But, despite strong rumours locally about the future of the area’s largest employer, water chiefs are adamant there are no plans to close the site.

“I can discount that,” said Gary Dixon, the company’s customer services director. “Franklaw is a key plant, it is one of our biggest, producing up to 140 million litres a day.

We are making good progress in clearing the bug

“This plant has operated perfectly well for many years.

“Something has clearly gone wrong there and a full independent investigation is going on to find out what it was.”

More than 300,000 households and businesses were affected. Last Thursday 80,000 homes were given the all clear followed by further 86,000 homes on Sunday.

But the firm has been blasted for the length of time the problem has continued for.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “Blackpool and the Fylde coast generally has a large number of care homes, holiday businesses, and hotels whose operations have been made much more difficult, costly and time consuming as well as hospitals and individual consumers , including the elderly and vulnerable of which we have above average numbers. In the next few days with schools returning and the Illuminations switch on heralding a peak visitor period that pressure and challenge will increase.”

Gary Dixon said: “Our plans are in place to provide bottled water to schools and colleges in the areas still affected so that they can open as usual when term starts this week. We are making good progress in clearing the bug, and expect to have good news for the vast majority of remaining customers by the end of the coming week.”