Residents turn to video over water fears

Edinburgh residents claim their water is making them ill, but they can’t prove it. Are they scare- mongering, or does the water company have something to hide? Lindsay McGarvie reports.

Residents in an Edinburgh housing estate plan to turn to video evidence. to try to prove claims about the poor quality of their water supply.

In response to fears over the state of their water. a group of Wester Hailes residents have recently formed an action group Positive Water Affected Residents (WAR).

WAR claims the water supply to the Westbum Village area of the housing estate is brown. scumrny. smelly. gritty and. in the worst cases. there are reports of flies and worms coming through their taps. Yet complaints to East of Scotland Water. the local water authority. have been dismissed as ‘scaremongering‘.

A recent WAR health questionnaire of 100 households in the Westbum Village area found 233 residents had suffered from gastric complaints in the last year. with a total of fourteen hospitalisations. The survey also found that a number of people had drawn their own conclusions aborrt the source ofthe illnesses. drinking only boiled tap water. with others choosing expensive bottled water they can ill afford.

Scott Rough. 3 l. is Chairman of WAR and has been particularly vocal in his protests over what he describes as a ‘totally inadequate and disgraceful quality of water supply‘.

Earlier this year. Rough‘s two-year-old son Scott was admitted to Edinburgh‘s City Hospital suffering from extreme dehydration and dramatic weight loss after a prolonged bout of sickness and diarrhoea. Rough claims the infant was diagnosed as having been infected by the water-borne parasite Giardia. which is extremely rare in the UK.

Rough suffered similar symptoms to his son at the time. but admits that he only made the connection between the illness and the water supply after hearing of similar cases from fellow residents.

Mrs Yvonne Bygate. also of Quarrybank End. voiced concerns about her water supply to the authorities over a year ago. and described how she and her seven-year-old daughter Laura fell ill last Christmas due. she claims. to contaminated water.

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Like Rough‘s son. Laura Bygate suffered from severe sickness and diarrhoea. although doctors at Edinburgh‘s Royal Hospital for Sick Children could not diagnose the root of her illness. Her mother Yvonne experienced similar symptoms. losing two stones in weight.

Mrs Bygate. a care worker. said her water was intermittently extremely dark. adding: ‘I can only suffer staying in the bath for a couple of minutes maximum. And when I get out my skin breaks out in an extremely itchy rash. It is a complete nightmare.‘

Mrs Bygate complained to environmental health officers about the colour and smell of her water earlier this month but admits that. on the day samples were taken. the water was comparatively clear. This week. the water has retumed to its dark colour. she claimed ‘The drinking water comes out looking like Crenrola Foam.‘ she said. ‘With my job and two young kids I don‘t always have time to boil it and I can‘t afford bottled water.‘

Like other worn'ed Wester Hailes residents Mrs Bygate feels her health concerns over the local water supply are falling on deaf ears. ‘We only want the authorities to recognise that we are really worried about this. check it out and do something about it.‘

Responses from East of Scotland Water have been contradictory. according to campaigners. In a letter to the Wester Hailes Representative Council in November. Mandy Haebum-Little. head of PR for the

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Westbum Vlllage: some residents blame Illness on water supply


authority admitted that there had been an occasional discolouration of water in certain parts of Western Edinburgh. but put that down to ‘recent heavy rain‘.

However. Jim Brown. Director of Operations for East Of Scotland Water denied there was a problem: ‘The water supply to Wester Hailes is of a very high standard. This group [WAR] is not representative of our customers. We have an excellent record in quality. service and delivery and would like to reassure our customers that the extreme actions of this small group will not deter us from our commitment to providing excellent service.‘

Mike Drewry. the City of Edinburgh Council‘s Director of Environmental and Consumer Services said of the Wester Hailes situation: ‘Environmental Health Officers have taken drinking water samples in this area to test for pathogens and the results have always been negative. However. in view of the concern. I arranged for my staff to take a number of samples from various locations on 29 November I996. I can confirm that the drinking water supply in this area is of an acceptable level.‘

Rough said only an independent study could resolve the situation and he called for the water authority to foot the bill: ‘WAR has no money to commission an independent body to test the local water supply.‘ He added that the video evidence to be gathered by the group later this month would help prove their grievances are legitimate.

And Finally . . . Why Moore is less and Sinatra isn’t frank

in the way of success. ()l‘ Blue Eyes has other worries on

which ensures a secure fake bamet. no matter how inclement the weather.

his life his legendary pigeons. Unsurpn'singly. her ardour soon

If you ever find yourself arguing with Dcmi Moore in a pub (it might happen). whatever you do. don‘t tell her to keep her hair on. For she ain‘t got none no more. as her role in the forthcoming G. I. Jane demands.

Not that this has diminished Derni‘s appeal. according to New Woman magazine. which has her surging ahead of fleecy rivals Sharon Stone and Ulrika Jonsson in the ‘woman that women most want to look like‘ category.

Nevertheless. despite occasional promotional pushes by movie starlets (Sigourney Weaver for one). the domehead look has never really caught on. Follically challenged crooner Frank Sinatra could have warned them not to try he has always done his utmost to disguise the shortfall over the years. without much

his mind these days. He is engaged in the last of his big spendings. as he attempts to shift an accumulated fortune of £350m into the pockets of his loved ones.

Nancy is set to receive a rise in her allowance from Pop. currently standing at £800.000 but rising to a cooler than cool £21m. Oh. not to mention the deeds to his £32m hovel in Beverly Hills. The Daily Record somehow managed to elicit this from a source: ‘lt‘s not that easy to suddenly get rid of £350m. but Frank's going as fast as he can.‘ Must be a living hell.

The biggest tragedy of Sinatra‘s sad plight is that he isn’t going to live long enough to benefit from a revolutionary new technique in hair care. An American cosmetic surgeon has come across the fine idea of sticking your wig on with solid gold skull pins.

For potty Liverpudlian Charles Newton. a new hairdo was the last thing on his mind. Keeping his head was his chief concern after a tricky adventure into his loft space. as reported by the Record. He came upon the bright idea that putting a saucepan on his head was a foolproof method of protecting his napper. Unfortunately. said pan became attached to Chuck‘s bonce and the emergency services were alerted. Is this another example of the infamous Scouse wit?

Talking of headbangers in Liverpool. Mr Duncan Ferguson. once of Glasgow Rangers and Her Majesty’s Pleasure. has been back on the front pages. The Daily Star reported his recent dalliances with topless entertainer Karen Young. l9. Apparently. the big striker couldn't stop going on about the other birds in

waned. A rum doo for Dunc. Probably. (Brian Donaldson)

Slnatra: sharing out the cake

The List l3 Dec l996-9 Jan 1997 5