§ Mr. Raffan
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the Government will be taking any further steps in respect of cryptosporidia in water supplies.
§ Mr. Howard
Thames Water has been dealing with a problem relating to cryptosporidia in water supplies in the Oxford and Swindon area. As a precaution, Thames Water extended special sampling to other parts of its area and by the end of last week a number of the organisms had been identified intermittently at some other water treatment works. However, no link has been established between currently reported cases of cryptosporidiosis and drinking water supplies outside the Oxford and Swindon areas and the Department of Health has advised that there is no need for consumers to take any special precautions. Thames Water is taking action aimed at removing the organisms from these additional supplies and will continue with intensive sampling. They also propose to undertake an independently led review aimed at learning lessons from the experience. This information was announced in a press release by Thames Water last Saturday.
In view of the absence of information on cryptosporidia in water supplies, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, has decided to establish a group of experts under the chairmanship of Sir John Badenoch to advise on the subject. The group will consider the extent to which this organism may be present in water supplies, the monitoring methods necessary to detect it, the public health significance of its presence and whether any action is necessary.