Water company fined £12,000 after linking homes to wrong main

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:18 06 May 2010

A WATER company s fine for supplying untreated water to homes has been likened to a drop in the ocean compared to the profits they make. On Monday Three Valleys Water appeared at Central Herts Magistrates Court in St Albans and admitted piping water unfit

A WATER company's fine for supplying untreated water to homes has been likened to a drop in the ocean compared to the profits they make.

On Monday Three Valleys Water appeared at Central Herts Magistrates Court in St Albans and admitted piping water unfit for human consumption to three houses in Colney Health.

The company was fined £12,000 on two specimen counts taken by the Drinking Water Inspectorate and ordered to pay £7,610 in costs.

In February 2006 the three houses were connected to a mains pipe containing untreated water.

The mistake was made because the pipe had been used to carry treated water until 1997 but company records did not note the change of use.

When residents moved into the properties in late 2006 they complained that the water had a strange taste and was an odd colour. Following the complaint they were connected to a water main carrying treated water.

Three Valleys Water are part of parent company Veolia Water UK which has annual sales of more than £256millon.

Colney Heath ward councillor Chris Brazier said it had been residents rather than Three Valleys Water who had flagged up the problems and he was concerned that it had taken more than two years for the company to be held to account.

He described the fine as tiny in comparison to the huge profits the company made and said the water company should have been more careful. .

Principal inspector of the Drinking Water Inspectorate Sue Pennison said prosecution took a long time because they had to investigate and gather evidence as in a criminal case.

But she added that once the case had been made it was up to Central Herts Magistrates courts to process it and they had no control over how long that took.

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