Thursday, 24 November 2011

Water, water everywhere...

...nor any drop to drink.

My apologies to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Samuel Taylor Coleridge but I could not think of any phrase more appropriate.

The Farmer is beginning to despair. The wet weather has made the harvest impossible to gather so the remaining crop of oats, partially harvested, now stands in a sodden isolation, a little island in a sea of waterlogged soil.
The Farmer must try to reduce the moisture content of the grain from a harvest high of around 40% to 16%. This entails cranking up the old grain dryer which is run on a combination of diesel and electric, a giant tumble drier, if you like, albeit one which is eye wateringly expensive to run. (No pun was intended there, I can assure you.)

That is, if it runs. The wretched thing broke down but given that it is only slightly younger than me, these things happen.

I cannot help The Farmer just now as I am at home with our little boy. Our son developed an alarmingly high temperature, upset stomach and vomiting which lasted two days. We are keeping him from nursery even although he is over the worst now. We do not want to risk infecting the other children.

The thing is, our little boy drank some water from the tap in the kitchen in the farmhouse at the weekend.

He did so because he was thirsty and at the age of four, is independent enough to turn on a tap and pour himself a drink. He was thirsty and it only took less than a minute.
He had not asked me to open the bottle of water beside the sink because he wanted water *immediately* with all the impatience of a thirsty four year old.

Here are the latest water test results:

These tests were taken on 1st October 2011 and show unacceptably high readings of presumptive coliforms, presumptive E coli, presumptive Enterococci and very high levels of manganese.

The water supply which feeds the farm comes from a cast iron pipe which was interred through the farm fields in 1895 or thereabouts. Forgive me if I am inaccurate by a couple of years before or after.

There was an agreement between the landowner and a large public school that the school would have access to the water supply on the condition that the farm would be given 'free' water'.

The school bifurcated the pipe and laid a new one through our fields. We asked if we could have access to their clean water and were refused so we are still fed by the decaying cast iron pipe. The one that the school rejected.....

I was led to believe that everyone had a right to clean water.

I am no scientist unless you include a Ph.D in Cleaning Up Sick. I am, however, a mother who recognises the needs of a very distressed child who has 'picked up a bug'. I also recognise that the most likely source of this 'bug' was from the kitchen tap given we were at the farm trying to dry the grain and did not leave the farm.

The water was not tested for cryptosporidium as it costs approx. £250- 350 per test. This is why Environmental Health do not test for crypto.
Ditto Legionella, too costly to test for but someone must have as we received a 'Boil water' notice in July to safeguard against Legionella. The entire community received such a notice yet, to my knowledge, no further mention was given that the issue was resolved.

Our son was very apologetic and tearful when I asked him if he had eaten or drank anything he ought not.

"I drank the water from the tap although I am not supposed to".

A four year old boy who recognises that he is forbidden from taking a drink of water when he is thirsty yet thirst overcame the forbidden.

I will remind anyone who is reading that the landowners fitted a water filter to the farmhouse tap then disconnected the electricity supply, thus rendering the system useless. The filter then shattered when the temperature inside the farmhouse kitchen fell below minus 16 last winter.

It is patently clear that this government, in Scotland, are ignoring a fundamental right to clean water. An entire community are ignored, yet, alarmingly, there are plans to build new houses which will be fed by the private water supply. (n.b. full water rates are paid to the landowner by the community).

Why is this allowed to happen in Scotland, in 2011?

One would almost believe that the rule of pheasant over peasant was being exercised despite the Abolution of Feudal Tenure Scotland circa 2000. Profit over health.

We are asking for your help.


  1. I'll join the band of helpers too. We're on well water in Wales with a very high manganese level, but that's never been a problem. The bugs certainly would be.

  2. It's shocking. I sent another letter to Fiona Leslie about this situation. All we can do is keep on at them.

  3. Thank you very much.

    Where do you begin? We need those responsible to lay a new water pipe, proper testing for crypto and legionella and a comprehensive water filtration system which filtrates to a fine degree. (Env Health told us there was a grant for the filter so we have been asking around for quotes)

    It is difficult to find a system robust enough to cope with the solids.

    We ask that the main storage tank is inspected by qualified and independent professionals and the results are made public.

    This really ought to be addressed by the Minister for the Environment, Roseanna Cunningham MSP. I know that other neighbours have contacted her but we still have an iffy water supply....

    I am going round some of the neighbours later today to ask for their views and will keep you informed.

  4. I think I'd be sending out press releases with titles like "We need you, Erin Brockawitch (sp?)" . Anything catchy that will give the news media grist for the mill. I'd comment to all and any tourist boards and chambers of commerce as well. None of them want this kind of PR to get out. Place fear in the hearts of whisky makers that their advertising about all the special, pure Scottish water that flows through their products is questionable.
    This way you will find allies with deep pockets and connections to put pressure on politicians and bureaucrats.
    This post is horrifyingly compelling and makes me mad on your behalf. Make a video with images of your farm and your son and post on YouTube. Going Viral (pun intended) would be good for your cause.
    The law is slow and outcomes have nothing to do with right and justice. Marketing, media and the internet are a powerful tool. Don't hold back.

  5. You are not alone in your plight, we are similarly affected, albeit under a different council!
    Our problem if you can call it that, is actually getting the council to carry out it's offered free test, not that we ourselves particularly want it, but merely to put other council officers minds at rest,
    we ourselves have been drinking private well water for the last thirty years with no adverse affects, yet as with all other users of private supplies in Scotland, we are duty bound to comply!
    My sympathies lie with you.

  6. I agree that we do need someone with media clout to speak out.

    There is no whisky produced here, there is nothing here at all except a small community of people who are afraid to say anything or that it is 'a waste of time because nothing gets done'.
    The whisky industry is rigorously screened and regulated at every level, I just wish we had the same standards here.

    How can we invite tourists here when we would be putting them at risk? We would love to diversify but refuse to allow anyone to suffer after ingesting the water.

    Ours is not the only community that is affected by polluted private water supplies; the areas affected tend to be sparsely occupied, rural and inevitably owned by a landowner.

    The water here was always 'tested' by the estate's own man and the results were always perfect. How odd that there is such a difference between their results and the analysis by professionals...

    I am going to take on board what you have written, English Rider and will go off to have a think.

  7. At Home in Wellies - does your council charge a hefty fee for private water tests? I personally don't think this is right and you only receive a basic analysis for the money.

    People can build up an immunity to E coli over time but it really is a deterrent to visitors who have no idea what they are drinking, become ill then think it may have been something they ate!

    How many people think twice before drinking tap water?

  8. Oh god, this is just insanity! If it wasn't for the fact that the landowner would probably go up in arms over it, I'd seriously see about getting yourself on the news. A five minute piece on Reporting Scotland one evening would do a hell of a lot to expose the issue to the entire country! There's always a big kerfuffle whenever something like e-coli and children are mentioned so that would catch people's attention straight away.

    The fact that in this day and age you can't even let your young child drink from his own kitchen tap without fearing for his safety is just...tch, ridiculous!

  9. Our life would be made hell, Christine, of that I am sure.

    The issue which angers me the most is that there are entire communities affected where many of the inhabitants are young children and the elderly.

    This is fully the landowner's responsibility as it is happening on the land they say is theirs, charging water rates yet not providing clean water.

    I feel this issue is covered up as it is widespread but people are scared to say anything.

    I have spoken up as there is nothing more terrifying than seeing your child become so unwell that you have to ask for medical intervention.

    He is ok now but is completely exhausted and slowly building up all the fluid he lost. His appetite has not returned properly but that will come when he is ready.

    Is it too much to ask for a home with clean water?

  10. I believe that there is no charge from our council for the intitial test of our supply, it matters not anyway because we like everyone else in our situation will be forced to follow their instruction to the letter and at great expense to ourselves, sometimes I think just put the UV equipment in and lets get shot of these people, then I think why should we, it is afterall our own bodies and what we choose to do with them is no ones business but ours, I do however, take your point with regard to visitors and from that point of view, the UV is important. I will not however, succumb to their threats about putting in a supply to the mains, simply put the mains has more junk added to it than your average chemical factory producing toxins of the allsort kind.

  11. The solids which run through the UV filter render the UV useless as the light cannot shine through large soil peds thus the water must be filtered through a fine micron first then the UV is secondary.

    Twice a year, the algae bloom and sludge like forms come out of the tap or choke filters.

  12. My Mum would like to offer help and support - she has asked if you could contact her - not sure which is best, I can give you her Facebook or email or phone number x

  13. I would have said media but see you are at the mercy of the landowener :-(

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