About 12,000 households to the north of Glasgow got a shock yesterday when they were told not to drink their tap water because of high aluminium levels.
Scottish Water said it had detected “higher than expected levels” in water analysed at a treatment works. The affected areas were Strathblane, Blanefield, Mugdock, Milngavie, Bearsden, Faifley, Hardgate and Cochno.
Householders were told that their tap water should not be used for drinking, food preparation, brushing teeth, making babies’ feeds or for pets. But it was safe to use for washing clothes, baths and showers and for flushing toilets.
Scottish Water’s vans toured affected areas broadcasting warnings about the problem. The company also arranged alternative supplies for the areas affected, giving priority to hospitals, care homes and vulnerable customers.
There were reports that some supermarkets in affected areas had started to run low on bottled water and some were limiting sales to a few bottles per customer.
Aluminium, which can occur naturally in water, is used in the treatment process to remove impurities. However, what Scottish Water calls “an operational issue” meant that these aluminium compounds were not subsequently removed.
Dr Eleanor Anderson, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said, “If anyone from the affected areas develops gastro-intestinal symptoms within the next 24 hours, such as diahorrea and vomiting and are concerned, they should contact their GP or NHS24.”
This morning Scottish Water apologised for the incident and confirmed that all was back to normal with the tap water in the affected areas.
We take the safety of our tap water for granted. We use it so many times each day and for a wide variety of purposes. So it comes as a shock to hear that there might be a problem.
Perhaps this story will make us understand how fortunate we are to have a piped water supply – something that many people in the world still cannot enjoy.