Householders warned of change in tap water taste

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Householders in Devon are being warned to expect a possible change in the taste of their tap water.

South West Water is starting work on a £6m project at a treatment plant and it says the smell or taste of drinking water might change as a result.

But it is planning to mix the old and new supplies to bring in the change gradually from March 2018.

It is installing high-tech carbon filters, a new pumping station and ultraviolent disinfection system at Tottiford treatment works near Bovey Tracey.

The plant handles water from Fernworthy, Kennick, Trenchford and Tottiford reservoirs, and supplies 70,000 properties in South Devon, including Bovey Tracey, Torquay, Paignton, Newton Abbot, Kingskerswell, Teignmouth, Dawlish, Exminster and Chudleigh.

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The project includes six new granulator activated carbon filters at the works.

Granular activated carbon (GAC) is a specially engineered porous material with a large internal surface area – just one teaspoon has the same surface area as a football pitch.

Due to its large surface area and special surface chemistry it can remove natural and manmade organic matter sometimes present in the reservoirs which supply the water treatment works.

Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection uses UV light to destroy harmful bacteria and viruses sometimes found in the untreated reservoir water.

Chris Rockey, Head of Drinking Water Quality, explained: “We already have some of the best tap water in the country but this major investment in additional treatment will deliver even better drinking water to our customers in South Devon.”

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Water that has passed through the GAC and UV treatment process will start being introduced into supply from March 2018.

Chris added: “In the very short term, some consumers may notice a slight change in the smell or taste of their tap water. To minimise this and hopefully avoid it completely, we will bring the new filters on line one at a time and blend the new and improved water with the water currently produced by the works to ensure a smooth transition.”

This approach was undertaken successfully at Restormel and Wendron water treatment works in Cornwall in 2014.

The Tottiford works produces around 26 megalitres (million litres) of water a day.

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