Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Letter from Mr and Mrs N Mowat

  Our daughter was recently diagnosed with Cryptosporidisosis and we made a complaint to Thames Water. One of their field technicians took a sample on Saturday 14 September 2002.

  We would like to express our dismay at the manner in which our complaint has been handled by Thames Water.

SUMMARY OF EVENTS

  We telephoned Thames Water on Monday 9 September to report that my five year-old daughter had been diagnosed with Cryptosporidiosis after suffering diarrhoea for more than two weeks.

  Although we were assured by them that someone would be along later to test the water no-one came until my husband telephoned to let them know that the water pressure in our area was low (following work on one of the mains supply) and mentioned again that someone was meant to be coming to test our water.

  A field technician arrived Saturday morning (14 September 2002). This was five days after the original complaint, meaning that any Cryptosporidium might have been flushed from the system. The technician cleaned the tap with an anti-bacterial solution (and wipe) and then took a sample. He only sampled about 250ml of water. The sample was taken without enough time for the anti-bacterial spray to be washed off. In fact it was still dripping from the tap after the technician had left. Consequently the water collected probably contained copious amounts of the anti-bacterial spray and so any bacterial contamination would have been nullified by the time the sample arrived at the lab.

  We received a letter on xx September stating that there was no bacterial contamination. There was no mention of Cryptosporidium presence, despite the fact that we had reported that our daughter had been diagnosed with Cryptosporidisosis (not a water-borne bacterial infection),

  A friend who is a Public Health Scientist specialising in water-borne infections has told us that to do a reliable test apparently 10L of water is required, and that normally an in-line filter is placed in the supply and left for several days so that any oocysts found can be calculated per 10L. The technician taking a sample from our supply only drew 250 ml from our tap. This was therefore inadequate.

  Thames Water were therefore negligent because:

  1.  The water sample was taken some days after our original complaint allowing time for the contamination/infection to be flushed out of the system.

  2.  They did not test for Cryptosporidium which we had originally complained about.

  3.  The sampling procedure would have been inadequate to accurately test for Cryptosporidium.

October 2002


 
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