Page 3: Quality standards
Drinking water quality is constantly tested for a very good reason, that of safety. Drinking water must be safe to drink. During a normal year, more than 500,000 regulatory tests are carried out with many more operational tests. Tests have shown that drinking water has been of excellent quality in 99.7% of samples. When a very small number of standards have not been met, investigations are carried out to establish the cause and everything possible is done to solve the problem. For example, sometimes failures are due to contamination by the customer’s own plumbing system or associated with old iron water mains. Continuous investment in the water delivery system means:
- • better quality drinking water for many areas of Yorkshire
- • water leakage and contamination is reduced by renewing old pipes
- • more customers receive water to the approved pressure standard.
Waste Water Quality Standards
To meet the very high standards, substantial investment has also been required in the treatment of waste water. This has meant Yorkshire Water investing more than £1,000 million in waste water projects designed to improve the quality of effluent discharged by Yorkshire’s rivers and coastal areas. Effluent is produced by the collection and treatment of raw sewage, industrial liquid waste and most of the rain water that falls on roofs and roads. About half of Yorkshire Water’s annual investment relates to the treatment and cleaning of waste water and sewerage. If the total cost of these improvements had been passed on in full to customers, charges would have increased by 28% over the last ten years. However, this continuous improvement programme has been part funded through efficiency savings of 15%. Meeting standards through this investment which includes the use of modern technology has meant:
- improved quality of effluent from sewage treatment works;
- reduced number of properties at risk from sewer flooding;
- improved quality of bathing water in designated bathing areas.
For Yorkshire Water customers these improvements in quality standards have helped to ‘clean up’ Yorkshire’s rivers to the point where recently a salmon was found in the River Don between Doncaster and Sheffield, something unheard of for well over 100 years. It has also meant that the bathing water around Yorkshire’s beaches, with the exception of two small ones, (and these are being brought up to standard), fully comply with the EC Directive.