HC Deb 07 March 1990 vol 168 cc671-2W
Mr. Alex Carlile

To ask the Secretary Wales whether, from 1 January 1988 to date, water of any Welsh constituency has failed standards; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Grist

The EC standards on drinking water quality have been incorporated into national legislation by the Water Act 1989 and the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1989.

Under this legislation water undertakers may approach the Secretary of State who appointed them for a relaxation of the standards where this is because of the nature and structure of the ground from which the supply emanates, exceptional meteorological conditions, or in order to maintain a public supply in an emergency. The Secretary of State may also accept undertakings given by water undertakers to carry out remedial work within a specified time scale to bring their supplies up to standard. As a result of these procedures, which have been endorsed by the EC, the Secretary of State has been made aware of supplies including a number in Wales which do not currently meet EC standards.

The undertakers are now required to maintain public registers which include particulars of relaxations, undertakings and the results of sample analysis. In accordance with the regulations, the information is prepared on a water supply zone basis, rather than by constituency.

Local authorities have a duty to monitor the quality of water supplies for domestic purposes in their areas. Water undertakers must provide local authorities with information on the extent to which the undertaker has complied with its obligations to supply wholesome water and, where appropriate, the remedial action taken. Should a local authority believe that the public supply is, or is likely to become, unwholesome and is not satisfied that appropriate remedial action has been taken, the authority is under a duty to notify my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who if the water is supplied by an undertaker appointed by him, must in most circumstances take enforcement action against the undertaker.

The local authority's duty to monitor water supplied for domestic purposes extends to private supplies and if these supplies are unwholesome, authorities may serve a notice requiring the improvement of the supply or connection to a public supply. These notices may be served without notifying the Secretary of State unless representations or objections are received.