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  • by Karma Loveday

Southern fined for drinking water quality offence

Southern Water was fined £16,000 and agreed to out-of-court costs of nearly £50,000 at Hove Crown Court, following a prosecution brought by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI).

The DWI explained the case concerned: “Between 1 April 2018 and 31 May 2018, Southern Water introduced sodium hypochlorite for the purposes of maintaining disinfection at High Park Booster Station but did not operate and maintain the process to keep disinfection by-products as low as possible.

The company failed to adhere to the requirements of the relevant British Standard as required by the regulations, and consequently introduced the by-product, sodium chlorate, into the water supply at above the World Health Organisation recommended concentration of 700 µg/l. The water supply was intended for human consumption, and it was subsequently supplied to premises within Brighton North Water Supply Zone.”

Marcus Rink, chief inspector of drinking water commented: “This milestone judgement makes clear that drinking water quality is a continuous obligation throughout the whole supply system. The requirements for processes, standards, and materials, including storage of chemicals used in disinfection, do not just stop at a point or instance in time as a company may choose. Companies cannot undermine the purpose of the regulations by taking a narrow interpretation to avoid their wider duty, as water quality must come first to protect the public health."

In a statement the water company said: "We have always accepted that the storage of sodium hypochlorite at High Park in May 2018 fell short. We want to reassure customers this was never a public health issue and the water we supplied was always wholesome. We reviewed and reinforced our processes to ensure continuing compliance. Neither High Park nor any of our other sites have been affected by this issue in the four years since this incident.

"The fine will be paid from company equity and not by our customers."


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