Brixham is safe to visit despite parasite outbreak, insists health boss

South West Water (SWW) has confirmed that the boil water notice for around 14,500 properties supplied by the Alston reservoir has been lifted. This means households in White Rock, Hookhills, Broadsands, Galmpton, Churston and lower Brixham areas can use their tap water as normal.

However, the utility company is advising that around 2,500 properties in the Hillhead, upper parts of Brixham and Kingswear areas are still subject to a boil water notice and are still required to boil and cool their tap water before consumption. Residents can use the postcode checker on South West Waters website to see if they are still in the area affected by a boil notice.

While a probable cause of contamination has been identified at Hillhead, further investigations in this area are ongoing. SWW teams will be working over the weekend and into next week to fully resolve the issue.


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The company said it will only lift the remaining boil water notice when it is entirely satisfied it is safe to do so. It added that regular testing will continue throughout the network.

Today’s (May 18) decision was made in consultation with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Environmental Health Department and the Public Health Teams from Torbay Council and Devon County Council.

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, Torbay’s director of public health, said: “I am glad to see that South West Water have announced this partial lifting of the boil water notice for the majority of properties that have been affected by this outbreak. This follows very rigorous work to identify the source of the contamination in the water supply and the testing that has taken place that allows the confidence of the UKHSA and us to support this partial lifting of the boil notice.

“Although we are confident that the source has been identified and appropriate actions are being taken, cryptosporidium can take up to two weeks after the initial exposure for the symptoms to show. As a result, some people may continue to develop symptoms from the original contamination event, or from person to person spread. Reported numbers of those affected may rise in the coming week even though we are lifting the boil water notice in some areas."

Dr Sargeant said the council will continue to support those residents who are still in the areas that have a boil water notice. He continued: "It is important that those in these areas continue to avoid drinking tap water until advised otherwise. All residents need to maintain good hygiene measures and remain away from school and work for up to 48 hours after their last episode of diarrhoea. This will help us to reduce any onward person to person spread of the infection.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank those members of the voluntary sector, and those who have rallied around in communities, to help and support those who needed help to access bottled water. They have worked with SWW to identify those who were most vulnerable and supported people needing delivery to their homes.

“Finally to say, the Bay remains open for business. I know people have been concerned about visiting and whether it’s safe to be here. I would like to assure our residents and visitors that effective public health measures are in place to keep everyone safe. This outbreak has always been confined to a small part of the Bay, and that area is now smaller following the lifting of the boil water notice. We are supporting our local tourism and hospitality sector to operate safely and keep the Bay open for business.”

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SWW has thanked all those who have reported symptoms so far and said there is no need to report further cases at present. The UKHSA will be carrying out further work to understand the scale of the outbreak and more information will follow.

In the meantime, it has asked that people only contact their GP if they need urgent clinical care, (if symptoms last longer than seven days, or if they experience more severe symptoms such as blood in their poo) and they may recommend taking a poo sample for testing. This is to help them manage demand at this very busy time.

Anyone who is vulnerable or on the Priority Services register and hasn’t yet received a delivery of bottled water in the area still with the boil notice can contact SWW directly on 0344 346 1010. Those registered for Priority Services will automatically receive bottled water from SWW, every 24 hours, throughout the boil water notice period. This also applies to those who have difficulty accessing one of the bottled water sites.

There are still three South West Water bottled water collection points, and these will remain open for the weekend. They are at Broadsands Car Park, Freshwater Quarry Car Park and Churston Car Boot Field. They are open until 9 pm tonight (Saturday, May 18) and again from 7am to 9pm tomorrow (Sunday, May 19).

SWISCo is expecting a rise in the number of empty plastic water bottles needing to be recycled. It has asked that people avoid putting them in their general waste and recycle them and to flatten them with their lids attached.

They have set up three plastic bottle recycling points in Brixham to cope with demand. These will be at: St Mary’s Park, Furzeham Green, and Summercourt Way Playing Field.

As confirmed earlier this week, customers affected by the boil water notice will be given £115 compensation as an apology for the inconvenience and worry caused by the situation.

Recognising the ongoing disruption to customers in the Hillhead, upper parts of Brixham and Kingswear area over the weekend and into next week, an additional £100 compensation will be paid to those affected customers in that area, giving each customer a total of £215. This will automatically be paid to customers by South West Water, or credited to your next available water bill. Customers will not be contacted by anyone about this, so the company has urged people to be wary of anyone who calls claiming to be from South West Water as this could be a scam.

For businesses impacted by the boil water notice, South West Water has set up a dedicated line for retailers and businesses to discuss any impact on their business. The number is 03332 342 293 and the line is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

There is specific advice for food businesses that are still affected by the boil notice in the remaining area.