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Flooding and private water supplies

Herefordshire residents, farms and businesses who draw their water from private water supplies such as wells, springs and boreholes are being warned to pay extra attention to their water during the current heavy rainfall and flooding.

Herefordshire has about 2500 private water supplies, mostly boreholes, springs or wells. The quality of this water can be influenced by surface and flood waters and contamination can therefore follow heavy rainfall.  `

Private supplies are commonly located in rural locations where there are animals and septic tanks in close proximity to their catchment area. In times of flood there are real risks of animal and human waste contaminating these supplies.

Water treatment systems that keep these private water supplies safe, such as ultra violet light systems, can seriously be affected due to the discolouration of the water and clogging up of filters.

Marc Willimont, Head of Environmental Health & DevelopmentManagement said “Please take extra precautions during this exceptionally wet weather, particularly if you have young, elderly or vulnerable people at home who may be more adversely affected by contaminated water supplies. If in doubt it is best not to use the water until you have had it tested and the flooding and contamination passes.”

If a private well or spring has been covered by floodwater or if you notice a change in water quality, such as the water becoming discoloured, a change in the taste or smell of the water, then ring Environmental Health on 01432 261761. Whilst waiting for an answer, assume the water is unsafe to drink unless boiled or you use an alternative supply.

Continue to use boiled water for drinking and bathing until the supply has been tested and shown to be safe.

Anyone who wishes to report contaminated drinking water at their property can contact Herefordshire Council on 01432 261761 or email ethelpline@herefordshire.gov.uk