Firm illegally connected to water supply

 By Sean Robinson @SeanRobinsonUU

A construction firm has pleaded guilty to illegally interfering with the public water supply without consent in Liverpool.

 Picture of a person using a microscope

Carpenter Projects Ltd of London Road had built an apartment complex on Princeton Place in the City.

The firm was ordered to pay a total of £4,770 by a District Judge [Thursday 26 January] after the company accepted culpability.

It pleaded guilty to one breach interfering with a water main without consent under section 174(1)(a) of the Water Industry Act 1991.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard the firm had illegally interfered with the public water supply without consent from United Utilities.

The water company, which supplies drinking water to around seven million taps across the North West, first received telephone contact from an occupier of one of the flats at Princeton Place reporting a chemical and metallic odour to the water supply.

Specialist water quality sampling was undertaken, which indicated the presence of high concentrations of organic compounds in the water being supplied from the taps within the property

Those tests had to be analysed at a laboratory in Warrington-Cheshire. The Cheshire & Merseyside Health Protection Team and United Utilities issued a precautionary “Do Not Drink” advice to the occupants in Block A and B Princeton Place whilst investigations continued.

The court heard thirty-one customers called United Utilities emergency control centre for help between 26 April and 07 May 2016.

Under caution, Carpenter Projects confirmed the connection was first made on or around July 2014 and that, Carpenter Projects acting as the Principal Contractor for the development and instructed sub-contractors to attach the pipe to the public water supply.

Counsel for United Utilities, said significant efforts were made to locate the source connection given there had been no formal application. There was no indication of where or how this had been done, or whether the method of connection was safe ormet the relevant UK regulatory requirements for the provision of drinking water to domestic properties.

High-tech specialist equipment called a ‘thumper’ device had to be used to locate underground water pipes by sending a rhythmic pulse and then picking up the noise with ground microphone.

The investigation led engineers to a connection point located on Caryl Street, which was hidden.

Watermen spent weeks laying new pipework and inspecting alterations of internal pipework to ensure the 100-bed apartment blocks could be supplied with safe clean drinking water.