West Cumbria residents to get softer water blend

Copeland residents are to receive a softer blend of tap water.

The decision was made at a meeting between United Utilities, Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, Mike Starkie the Mayor of Copeland Council, the Environment Agency, the Drinking Water Inspectorate and DEFRA.

It will come as good news to residents across West Cumbria who have been receiving harder water after the water company began reducing supplies from Ennerdale and started to blend in water from boreholes at Egremont.

Under the new water supply arrangements agreed at the meeting, residents will receive a consistent blend of water classed as soft throughout the year, by using a smaller proportion of borehole water.

Martin Padley, Water and Scientific Services Director at United Utilities, said: “We made the original changes to the supply to meet a requirement to reduce the amount of water taken from Ennerdale and so improve the ecology of the River Ehen.

“All our tests have consistently shown the water to be of the usual high quality, but we have taken on board the concerns of our customers who said they didn’t like the harder water.

“I’m really pleased that we have been able to arrive at a compromise which will allow us to keep the amount of borehole water in the blend to a minimum, while still providing benefits for the local environment.”

The softer blend will be maintained until 2022 when a new pipeline bringing water from Thirlmere reservoir comes on line. The only time the proportion of borehole water would ever be increased will be in times of drought when the level of Ennerdale reaches a certain low point. Rainfall models indicate this might happen once in four years.

Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland Council, said: “Our residents have been very concerned over the changes to the water supply, and many have been unhappy about the ‘harder’ water they are receiving.

“Along with our MP Trudy Harrison, I have had a positive meeting with United Utilities, the Environment Agency, the Drinking Water Inspectorate and DEFRA, and I am pleased that our drinking water will be a softer blend, balancing the wishes of the community with the environmental impact.

“I am sure that lessons have been learned from this process, especially in terms of how this change was communicated to Copeland’s residents.”

Trudy Harrison MP commented: “Firstly, I would like to thank everyone that got in touch with me regarding our water supply.

“I was pleased that we were able to get United Utilities together with DEFRA, the Drinking Water Inspectorate and the Environment Agency around the table to discuss the major concerns that Copeland residents had in respect of the quality and safety of their drinking water.

“Following on from that meeting and in respect of residents’ concerns that were made, United Utilities have listened and are now going to supply soft water until the end of the transitional period which will see our water supply coming from Thirlmere.”

Keith Ashcroft, Environment Agency Area Director, said: “We have supported United Utilities as they developed a way forward for the drinking water supply issues.

“We continue to work closely with the water company to deliver West Cumbria’s demand for water in the best possible way, balancing the needs of people whilst protecting the sensitive natural environment.”

United Utilities is presently constructing a new £300 million scheme to bring soft water from Thirlmere Reservoir to West Cumbria. The scheme involves the construction of 100km of new pipeline, a new treatment plant, two new pumping stations and two new underground service reservoirs. Ennerdale water will not be used after the new scheme comes on line in 2022./ Ends