The Socialist

The Socialist 2 September 2008


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Water quality threat to health

FOR THE third time in three years, an outbreak of the parasite cryptosporidium has hit water supplies in Gwynedd and Anglesey. In 2005-06 over 200 people were left ill after contracting the parasite which causes severe diarrhoea. Then, a notice to boil all water (which kills the parasite's eggs) was in place for several months.

Iain Dalton

The company (Welsh Water/ Dwr Cyrmu) agreed to compensate 37,000 customers 25 each for their inconvenience and were fined a tiny 60,000 for supplying unfit drinking water. After the incident the company spent 1 million on new treatment equipment.

Now, however, the bug is back again. A notice to boil water, issued on 30 August, will affect 45,000 people. It appears this new treatment isn't working either. A letter released by the Drinking Water Inspectorate last year pointed out that cryptosporidium experts had warned Welsh Water about possible problems in 1998.

The investigation into the 2005-06 incident said that although treatment was in line with regulatory standards, this was because it was believed the bug would be sufficiently dilute in the water not to cause harm! Welsh Water had also failed tests of water quality there twice in previous years and been under legal obligation to improve the facilities there.

Welsh Water, like other UK water companies, was privatised in 1989. These companies' debts were written off by the government, but this still led to price increases and staffing cuts. Maintenance and investment were also cut back in 'cost-cutting' exercises. Since privatisation we have seen water shortages, outbreaks of bugs like cryptosporidium and poor maintenance of sewerage which made last year's flooding much more severe.

Water provision, a vital public service, should never have been privatised. Socialists argue for the renationalisation of the water companies, under the democratic control and scrutiny of the local and national population.

In this issue

'Them and us' economy hits the rocks

Inequality - the world's deadliest disease!

Socialist Party editorial

Russia / Georgia war exposes limits of West

Socialist Party workplace news

Trades Union Congress: Building a real leadership against the bosses

John Mc Donnell MP protests at Unison witch-hunt

London buses: Strikers pack picket lines

Fight threat to Ford Transit plant jobs

Coastguards strike over bank holiday in pay protest

Socialist Party feature

Building a new workers' party: trade unionist initiative needed

Building industrial militancy

International socialist news and analysis

Poland: Biggest workers' demo since the 1990s

Socialist Party campaigns

Terry Fields memorial meeting

Arrested for selling The Socialist

Opposing the far right

Winners and losers at the Beijing Olympics

Water quality threat to health

Adding colour to The Socialist

Socialist Students

School and college students fighting back!

Socialist Party review

Inside Egypt: the land of the Pharaohs on the brink of a revolution

Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS: Save our casualty unit!

NHS 'surplus' = cuts in care

Swollen profits, suffering patients


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2 September 2008