DWI alerts industry to "important lessons" in wake of United's crypto incident

The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) has warned that water companies should ensure resilience in their supply systems following its findings on the 2015 major cryptosporidium incident at United Utilities’ Franklaw Treatment works. The water quality watchdog, in its investigation report said the Franklaw event “highlighted some important lessons for United Utilities and the water industry as a whole in England and Wales.”

The DWI said: “In particular water suppliers must have resilience built into supply systems where the supply to a large population of consumers has no alternative supply arrangements. This may be by connectivity, redundancy of assets or robust protection systems to ensure that continuous supplies of wholesome water can be maintained.”

The watchdog went on to advise water suppliers “to ensure that emergency contingency plans are appropriate for the size of their supply systems, such as restrictive advice to consumers which can be disseminated quickly and effectively to the affected population.

“Plans for re-zoning supply areas, providing alternative supplies such as bottled water and water in tankers and bowsers, and obtaining mutual aid, also need to be ready for mobilisation within a short space of time to minimise the impact on consumers.”

The report’s nine recommendations for United Utilities included reviewing its emergency plans for protective advice and working with other companies to review how advice is communicated.

The company was fined £300,000 after pleading guilty to a charge of supplying water unfit for human consumption. More than 700,000 people were affected by the event.