Friday, 12 June 2009

"Dear sir, I'm writing for permission to have a poo..."

The picture above is a bacteria - a coliform, apparently. And our water supply is rammed full of them.

Not your water supply, I'd guess. If your water comes from the local water company, it'll have been filtered, treated, scrubbed, and cleaned to within an inch of it's life. That's why you pay the water company for something that's free. No, just our water supply.

That's because our water comes from a tank at the top of the hill. The stream that runs past our house fills the tank, and the water comes to our village. There are 5 houses connected to this supply. The water board could supply us direct, but then they'd charge £5,000 a house to connect us, and frankly they can take a running jump.

So, this water comes into my house, goes through 3 filters which kill these little beggars (and remove any lumps of peat from the water - oh yes, when it rains our supply is a lovely dark brown colour) and then we don't drink it. The emphasis on the word 'don't'. We boil it, wash in it, wash pots in it, but there's no way in a million years I'm drinking brown water that comes from fields full of sheep crap. The ablutions of our farm animals, incidentally, are the source of these beggars.

And, I can even tell you how many of these critters are in our water. On 9th June, there were over 201/100ml of water, of which 74/100ml were faecal coliforms. I know this because on that date, Harrogate Council sent an environmental bloke round to test the water coming from an outside tap on the side of a house up the lane.

Oh yes. Despite the fact that we are all perfectly aware of the water quality, a man from the council has decided that we are too dim to work out that brown unfiltered water is a bit manky., and has sent us a letter telling us why it's full of bugs, when they are doing a second test, and what to do. Apparently we should boil the water in the meantime. Durr. Two of the houses are lived in by families who have farming pedigree going back hundreds of years, in the Nidd valley. I don't think they really need a patronising letter from the council telling them the bleeding obvious now, do they?

Best thing is, they didn't even send me the letter. Even though I pay them a 4-figure sum in council tax every year, the 5 letters were all sent to old names. My letter is addressed to the woman who moved next door. The bloke next door passed away last year. The third house along got a letter to a bloke who moved out 5 years ago. So, I would have known nothing about the imminent health risk if my neighbour hadn't come round and pointed out that this statement of the obvious is probably going to cost £15, at least. And as yet, I've no idea what will happen if the water fails it's July test.

I'll keep you posted!


  1. And bottled water is such a rip off too...

  2. bottled water isn't that expensive - 5 litre bottles are usually less than a quid, and we don't normally need more than 3 a week. The filters are the expensive bit, the cheapest ones I ever found are £12.50 each, the ceramic filters are £90 to replace. Ouch!