It’s easy to take the purity and safety of the water which comes out of our taps for granted, and the vast majority of the time it’s perfectly safe to do so. People who live in modern, industrialised countries are able to rely upon a well filtered clean water supply, but it’s this very industrialisation which can, occasionally, lead to contamination incidents. The fact that it is still possible for a modern water supply to become contaminated with chemicals which can, in extreme cases, be highly damaging to health or even life threatening, merely underlines the necessity of ensuring the presence of effective water monitoring technologies. Amongst the worst cases of large scale water contamination in recent years are the following:
Camelford Water Poisoning
Camelford is an area in Lowermoor, Cornwall, UK. In 1988 a driver accidentally dumped twenty tonnes of aluminium sulphate into the wrong tank at South West Water’s treatment works. Over the next few days, the water supplies of more than twenty thousand people were affected, leading to cases of vomiting, short term memory loss, joint pains, green hair and bowel problems.
Walkerton Water Contamination
Walkerton is a small community in Ontario, Canada. In May 2000, the water supply to the town became contaminated with the highly dangerous E. coli bacteria. The source for this contamination was thought to be waste run off from a farm into a well. After the water supply had become contaminated, as many as 2,500 people fell ill, with at least seven actually dying.
Crestwood Water Contamination
Crestwood is a village in Illinois, USA. In the year 2009 it became apparent that a well used to supply the residents’ drinking water had, for many years, been contaminated with dry cleaning chemicals. The main contaminant was a solvent known as PCE, which has been linked to neurological problems, cancer and liver damage.