§ Mr. Llew Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what consultations his Department has undertaken with the relevant authorities to ensure that local authorities are given adequate guidance in responding to pollution incidents affecting water supplies;
(2) what consultations his Department has undertaken to improve the emergency provisions guidance given to local authorities in responding to pollution incidents affecting water supply.
§ Mr. Maclean
Local authorities have special responsibility for private water supplies. DOE and Welsh Office consulted the local authority associations and other relevant bodies in preparing the joint circular on private water supplies issued in December 1991, in which paragraph 6.11 deals with the response to pollution. Water companies are responsible for the wholesomeness of public water supplies, but the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1989, which were also the subject of consultation, require water companies to notify local and district health authorities of any event which, by reason of its effect on water supplies, is likely to give rise to a significant risk to the health of local people. The Departments have also published guidance on safeguarding the quality of public water supplies, which includes advice on emergency procedures; water companies are advised to consult local and district health authorities with regard to the appropriate steps to be taken when incidents occur. As a result of the Water Act 1989, the National Rivers Authority became responsible for pollution incidents affecting controlled waters used for water supplies.