West Cumbria/Copeland water quality

Latest update: Tuesday 20 September 2017

We’d like to update you on what is happening with your water supply in parts of Workington, Whitehaven, Distington, Cleator Moor, Moresby, Egremont, Frizington, Seascale, Gosforth, Bootle, St. Bees, and Ennerdale Bridge.

We understand that there has been lots of concern within your community over the last couple of weeks about the changes to where your tap water is coming from.

Why did we change where your water comes from?

It’s all part of the short term aim to balance the amount of water we take from Ennerdale to protect local wildlife, whilst continuing to meet the demands of the local community.

This means we’ve had to blend water from Ennerdale, which is soft, with harder water from boreholes near Egremont. You can find an update and a Q&A document here (PDF 151KB opens in a new window).

Blending water from different sources is absolutely safe to do and we have been blending these water supplies for a while, but had increased the proportion from the boreholes further than before.

Listening to our customers

We’ve been responding to your concerns by letter, in person, over the phone and by social media. We’ve held four public meetings and have been in regular discussion with your MP and the local authorities to explain why the changes to your water supply were necessary in the first place.

Also, during this time, we have been taking samples from our customers’ taps that have shown the water is safe to drink and meets all the standards it is expected to pass, which has also been reinforced by the Drinking Water Inspectorate, but we do understand that many people have been unhappy about the change.

We’ve been working with the Environment Agency to find a compromise which can ensure we meet the needs and expectations of our customers while still protecting the local environment.

What’s happening next?

We’ve now reached an agreement that we can reduce the amount of borehole water to a lower rate and can continue to do this over the next few years until the new Thirlmere pipeline is built.

These changes will mean your water will be back to being soft all year round, but to do this, we need to make some changes to our equipment, so this will happen in September.

We have also agreed that we will only change that blend under very particular circumstances – which would be if we were experiencing a prolonged dry period, thought to be around once in every four years.

We know that we could have done more to let you know about the changes before they were made and we’re sorry for the concern this has caused.  We hope you feel reassured that we have listened to your concerns and have found a solution that provides the right balance.