More than 50 people in Devon ill from contaminated water as suppliers announce £3.5m compensation

21 May 2024, 18:39

57 cases of cryptosporidium have been confirmed in Brixham
57 cases of cryptosporidium have been confirmed in Brixham. Picture: alamy


There have been more than 50 cases of cryptosporidium in Brixham, Devon where around 17,000 households have been told to boil their drinking water, according to health bosses.

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The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the number of people affected had risen to 57 on Tuesday - a rise of 11 cases since Friday, with more cases expected to be confirmed later in the week. 

Cryptosporidium has an incubation period of up to 10 days, meaning symptoms which include diarrhoea, cramps, vomiting and nausea may continue to emerge.

This comes as Pennon Group, who are the parent company of South West Water (SWW) said it could pay out up to £3.5m in compensation after raising the amount to £215 for impacted customers.

The company announced underlying profits of £166.3m - an increase of 8.6% - on Tuesday.

South West Water handing out emergency rations of bottled water to anyone affected by the Cryptosporidium outbreak.
South West Water handing out emergency rations of bottled water to anyone affected by the Cryptosporidium outbreak. Picture: Alamy

Around 17,000 households in the Brixham area have been told to boil their drinking water following the outbreak last week.

On Saturday afternoon, SWW lifted the boiling restrictions for 14,500 homes after water quality monitoring results found no traces of cryptosporidium in the Alston supply area.

However, the water company said around 2,500 properties in the Hillhead supply area should continue to boiling their water before using it.

Read more: Scammers target victims of Devon water crisis, as South West Water boosts payouts after backlash

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The Secretary of State for the Environment Steve Barclay confirmed on Monday that two people have been hospitalised by the contaminated water.

Addressing the House of Commons, he said: "Given symptoms may take up to 10 days to emerge, obviously that may continue to rise.

"Two people have been hospitalised."

Anthony Mangnall, Conservative MP for Totnes and South Devon, tabled an Urgent Question in the House of Commons today, pressing the Rt Hon Steve Barclay to consider ongoing independent monitoring in a bid to restore public confidence in the water supplied by South West Water.

“The anger in Brixham is palpable”, with 8,000 residents still dependent on bottled water, said Mangnall.

Environment Secretary, Steve Barclay arrives at Downing Street for a Cabinet Meeting.
Environment Secretary, Steve Barclay arrives at Downing Street for a Cabinet Meeting. Picture: Alamy

Mangnall also raised the issue of compensation and urged that the “damaged reputation”, suffered by residents and businesses is addressed.

It comes after the head of the water company at the centre of the crisis apologised to customers, and said the illness outbreak "shouldn't have happened."

Apologising for the crisis, Susan Davy, CEO of South West Water said last week: “You expect a clean, safe, and fresh supply of drinking water. It's not a lot to ask for. But for those in the Brixham area this week, we haven't been able to deliver that and for that I’m truly sorry."

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