Households urged to keep boiling water to keep cryptosporidium bug at bay
Hundreds of thousands of people in Lancashire have been warned to continue boiling tap water.
United Utilities first issued the advice last Thursday after tests at one of its water treatment plants discovered traces of the microscopic bug cryptosporidium, which can cause sickness and diarrhoea.
It said it was making "good progress" in tackling the problem which it maintained posed a "very low" health risk but the precaution needed to stay in place.
The affected households cover a large area of Lancashire including Blackpool, Preston, Chorley and the Fylde coast.
United Utilities is advising customers to boil their water and then let it cool for all drinking, food preparation and teeth brushing
People can continue to use tap water without boiling for general domestic purposes such as bathing, flushing toilets or washing clothes.
In a statement, the water firm said: "The boil water advice is still in place today in Lancashire as a precaution but we are making good progress and the situation is improving.
"We are very sorry for the continuing inconvenience. Thank you very much to all of our customers in Lancashire for their patience and understanding whilst we try to get things back to normal."
It added: "This remains a very unusual incident. The risk to health is very low but we will not take chances with public health so please do continue to boil your water as a sensible precaution."
United Utilities is to open a number of customer information centres in Preston, Leyland, Chorley, Blackpool and Fleetwood.
Gary Dixon, customer services director at United Utilities, said: "We have seen an improving picture since Thursday. The levels of cryptosporidium were low when we called the incident and are actually a lot lower now, and in very small traces.
"But what we want to make sure is that we clear all that through the (testing) system before we lift that boil water notice.
"We will let customers know as quickly as we can when we are going to lift this boil water notice because we want to get this water back to the quality we had before the incident."
A multi-agency meeting will take place with Public Health England (PHE) later to decide on the criteria to lift the notice, he added.
Kate Brierley, PHE's regional deputy director of health protection, reiterated there was no reason for people to buy bottled water instead of following its advice.
She said: "Just follow that simple advice of boil the kettle, let it cool and just use that."
An investigation into how the parasite found its way into the water system is ongoing.