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Water

Volume 84: debated on Monday 21 October 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those water authorities which do not fulfil the requirements of the European Economic Community directive on drinking water in respect of (a) aluminium, (b) iron, (c) manganese, (d) lead, (e) nitrates and (f) fertilisers.

The following water authorities have one or more water supply areas in which the relevant limit in the EC Drinking Water Directive is exceeded at present:

Aluminium

  • Northumbrian
  • North West
  • Severn-Trent
  • South West
  • Yorkshire

Manganese

  • Anglian
  • Northumbrian
  • North West
  • Severn-Trent
  • South West
  • Yorkshire

Nitrate

  • Anglian
  • Severn-Trent
  • Yorkshire

Iron

  • Anglian
  • North West
  • Severn-Trent
  • South West
  • Yorkshire

Lead

  • Anglian
  • Northumbrian
  • North West
  • Severn-Trent
  • Yorkshire

Fertilisers

  • There is no reference to fertilisers in the Directive.

This answer does not cover the position in statutory water companies.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the date when each water authority is expected to comply fully with the European Economic Community directive on drinking water.

The dates by which the last improvements are due to be completed to comply with the directive are as follows:

Date
Anglian1989
Northumbrian1988
North West1990
Severn-Trent1990 (except for two supply areas 1995)
SouthernAlready complying
South West1991
Thames1987
WessexAlready complying
YorkshireApplications still being considered
This answer does not cover the position in statutory water companies.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the time limits he has imposed, and on which water authorities, in respect of the nitrate content of drinking water.

Derogations granted to Anglian and Severn-Trent water authorities allowing them to exceed in some of their supplies the nitrate limit set in the EC drinking water directive will be reviewed in three years.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment in what respect he has asked the European Economic Community to review the pesticide parameters for drinking water.

The pesticide parameter specifies the same limit for every pesticide, herbicide and fungicide, and a total figure for all such substances. This is scientifically unsound as these substances vary enormously in toxicity. The Government will therefore be requesting a review which takes account of these variations and the recent changes in pesticide composition. In addition, methods of analysis are not available to identify many pesticides at 0ยท1 parts per million, and in these cases the directive limit is not practical.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which water authorities supply drinking water with pesticides in them; what are the pesticides; what is their source; and what is the quantity involved.

If sophisticated analytical methods now becoming available are used it is possible to detect traces of pesticides in most water supplies down to one tenth of a part per million or even less. There are several hundred pesticides authorised for use in agriculture and general weed control as well as more specialised activities such as wood treatment. Medical advisers have confirmed that traces of pesticides detected in routine sampling are well below any known acceptable daily intake.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list all those private water suppliers which do not fulfil the requirements of the European Economic Community directive on drinking water in respect of (a) aluminium, (b) iron, (c) managanese, (d) lead, (e) nitrates and (f) fertilisers.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why private water suppliers are to be allowed to supply drinking water of an inferior quality to that provided by public water authorities.

This is not so. Local authorities have a statutory responsibility for deciding whether a private water supply is satisfactory.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which private water suppliers serve fewer than 500 people.

About 1 per cent. of the population regularly drink water from private supplies. There are known to be about 80,000 such supplies in the United Kingdom mostly in rural areas serving single properties. About 200 private supplies regularly serve more than 500 people.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will detail the programme of remedial work that is to be undertaken by each water authority in order to improve the quality of drinking water; and if he will state the cost;(2) what are the further programmes of action that he has identified as being needed to improve the quality of drinking water.

Programmes of action relate principally to the lead, aluminium, microbiological and iron parameters of EC drinking water directive. For lead the pH level is being raised or orthophosphate added to the water to reduce plumbosolvency (Anglian, Northumbrian North West, Severn-Trent, Yorkshire). When inefficient treatment causes the aluminium limit to be exceeded, treatment works are being improved or rebuilt (Northumbrian, North West, Severn-Trent, South West, Yorkshire). Marginal failures to meet microbiological standards are being met by more sophisticated disinfection, supplementary chlorination, or replacement or repair of service reservoirs (South West, Yorkshire). Where high iron concentrations are due to corroded cast iron mains, the pipes are being scraped, flushed and relined, or replaced (Severn-Trent).Many of these programmes of action are already under way. Further details and costs may be obtained from the water authorities.This answer does not cover programmes of remedial work being undertaken by statutory water companies.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which water supplies fall short of the European Economic Community directive in respect of microbiological standards; by how much each supply falls short of the European Economic Community standard; how many people are supplied by each supplier; and what action is being taken in each case to improve standards.

Ninety water supply areas fall marginally short of the EC drinking water directive's microbiological standards at present.

Number of supply areasPeople supplied
South West water authority22290,000
Yorkshire water authority68*750,000
* Approximately.
In the South West, supplementary chlorination is being provided and this will be complete in 1987. In Yorkshire more sophisticated chlorination equipment is being installed at some small spring sources and some service reservoirs are being replaced or repaired over the next few years.