Tens of thousands of families have been told to boil their water before drinking after a fault at a water treatment works has turned water yellow.
Around 17,000 homes have been affected in the Tameside, Saddleworth and Greenfield areas of Greater Manchester. United Utilities, which is responsible for the supply, says the problem is down to a fault at the Buckton Castle works.
While it has now repaired the issue, some water which is says it not up to its usual high standards is still in the local pipe network. Families have been told they must boil their water to drink, prepare food with or brush their teeth. However, the discoloured water is okay to use for bathing and flushing toilets. United is telling people to wait until the water has cleared if it looks dirty or cloudy before washing any clothes.
Local supermarkets are reporting that they have run out of bottled water and residents rush to buy mineral water rather than using the ‘yellow’ water they say is coming from their taps. United Utilities has said it recognises that it is not practical for schools to boil drinking water for their pupils, so it providing bottled water to schools to ensure they can stay open on Monday and Tuesday while the affected water works its way through the system.
While United Utilities would have had an obligation to provide bottled water or water through street bowsers if there was no water supply at all, in this instance because customers do still have water, they are giving bottled water only to vulnerable customers or those who might find it difficult or dangerous to boil their water.
Residents are being advised to continue to boil their water until they are told otherwise. It is not clear how long that will be.