Fears remain over lead in Sidmouth tap water

South West Water headquarters. Ref mhh 0001-27-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

South West Water headquarters. Ref mhh 0001-27-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

Campaigner redoubles efforts to raise awareness after being contacted by more affected residents

Lead pipes could be contaminating the drinking water in five per cent of Sidmouth homes, South West Water (SWW) has confirmed.

Resident Paul Goodfellow first spoke out last year after the ‘devastating’ discovery that his two grandchildren had been drinking tap water - containing more than four times the legal lead limit - in their Temple Street home.

And since he started a campaign about the issue, other residents have contacted him to say they have discovered ‘serious lead contamination’ in their homes, prompting him to redouble his efforts.

The retired teacher said: “My campaign has done something, but I think there are still things to do.

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“People need this information that the water being supplied may contain lead. I would like to see landlord safety certificates issued as standard because my daughter was in a rented property for three years and still does not know if it was safe.”

The element can be dissolved into the supply from old pipes in houses that were built before 1970 – the substance was banned that year – and is particularly harmful to pregnant women, babies and young children.

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East Devon MP Hugo Swire has made representations to SWW and the Department of Health on the issue.

He said: “It is, of course, vitally important that our drinking water in East Devon is clean and safe.

“I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that Mr Goodfellow’s concerns are listened to and addressed.”

SWW stated in November that the results of 98 per cent of tests conducted in Sidmouth fell below the legal limit of 10 micrograms per litre.

But this week a spokesman said: “Whilst compliance with the lead standard is greater than 98 per cent across the water supply zone, in Sidmouth itself the compliance is 95 per cent as there appear to be a greater number of homes with lead pipes.

“If your house was built before 1970, there is a chance you may have lead pipes in your home.”

Anyone concerned about the possibility of having lead pipes can contact SWW, which will arrange a free test.

More information about lead pipes can be found via: www.southwestwater.co.uk/waterquality.

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