Seventeen residents who bought their properties from Persimmon Homes have an exclusive no-one would want – that they prefer their water in bottles!
Maura Drumm moved into her £100,000 Persimmon home five years ago. Plumbing problems were the last thing that she expected, but she noticed a green stain on the enamel of her sinks. Persimmon conducted tests and found higher than usual levels of copper in Maura’s water supply. She says Persimmon told her it would go away in time, but having already been living there for two years, and with the problem seemingly getting worse, she decided to seek expert opinion.
Maura called in independent water consultant Ian Simpson. His tests showed that the copper levels were extremely high, so he advised Maura to stop drinking the water straight away. At around the same time, other residents were noticing the unusual staining in their sinks. In total, seventeen households have been affected, and for over a year they have been using bottled water every time they want to drink or cook.
They contacted the local water supplier, Severn Trent, who also tested the water. They too found high copper levels in Mrs Drumm’s water supply. Severn Trent then tested the water at the point where it entered the developments piping. At that point, the copper levels barely registered. In other words, if the copper wasn’t coming from the water supply, the problem had to be in the plumbing.
Watchdog called in Keith Hunt, the chairman of Central London’s Institute for Plumbing. He examined the site and came to the conclusion that the problem is with the flux – the substance you put on top of the joint in the piping when you solder it together. He suspected that the plumbers working on behalf of Persimmon hadn’t wiped away this acidic flux once they had completed the soldering, leaving it to corrode the copper pipework and affect the supply of water flowing through the pipes.
Although the residents have now stopped drinking the water, they were still using it to bathe and wash in and it was beginning to have effects on their health. Many of the residents have experienced skin complaints and itching after bathing.
Persimmon, however, weren’t convinced. They commissioned their own report and asked Ian Simpson to work with their own appointed expert. But as far as Ian is concerned, the results of that test were largely inconclusive.
Persimmon say they did indeed act swiftly on the blue water corrosion by commissioning their own research. With the help of the leading water quality research body, an independent industry expert found the water to be safe for drinking and cooking. They deny poor workmanship is responsible or that flux is the cause of the problem. They say they’ve already carried out alterations for some residents on the estate and remain committed to working with the others. Meanwhile, they say if resident have any doubts about the quality of their water they should run their taps for a short period beforehand.