E. coli water warning: Residents in hundreds of postcodes affected

8 October 2021, 11:02

Residents in affected postcodes are urged to boil all water used for drinking, food preparation and teeth-cleaning
Residents in affected postcodes are urged to boil all water used for drinking, food preparation and teeth-cleaning. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

Residents in hundreds of postcode areas have been told to boil drinking water due to the possible presence of E. coli bacteria.

The 443 postcodes in Oxted, Surrey and surrounding areas are all supplied by SES Water.

The company has issued the precautionary advice after routine testing at Westwood Treatment Works found that tap water could be affected by the bacteria.

Customers are advised to boil all water for drinking and preparing food before use, as well as water for pets.

E. coli bacteria can cause infections such as urinary tract infection, cystitis (infection of the bladder) and intestinal infection.

It may also cause E. coli bacteraemia, a blood stream infection which can be caused by primary infections spreading to the blood.

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SES Water’s Wholesale Director Tom Kelly said: "Until we get results that reconfirm Oxted’s water supply is okay to consume, we are asking our customers to boil water for drinking, food preparation and cleaning teeth as a precaution.

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"I realise this will be worrying and highly inconvenient to our customers, and I want to apologise and reassure them we are working around the clock to ensure they can use their water supply normally again as quickly as possible."

Investigations into the cause of the possible contamination are ongoing.

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SES Water is arranging for bottled water to be provided to vulnerable customers such as care homes, schools and those with urgent medical needs.

They are also urging those in affected postcodes to inform their friends and neighbours of the issue.

Boiled water should be covered, kept refrigerated and used within 24 hours.