College sold ‘free’ water to students

Water firm United Utilities revealed a �25 million profits hit
Water firm United Utilities revealed a �25 million profits hit
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Runshaw College has apologised after bottles of water provided during the tap water contamination problems were sold to students.

United Utilities delivered several thousand bottles of water to the college on the first day of term, September 1.

It came after parasite cryptosporidium was found at Franklaw water treatment plant in Catterall, near Preston, and people across Lancashire were advised not to drink tap water before boiling it.

Although tap water had been declared safe to drink at all of the college’s three sites by the start of term, their water dispensers needed to be flushed out, so the bottled water was given away free to students and staff until they were ready to be used.

A spokesman for the college said the dispensers were cleaned and safe to use on September 4 and they continued to give away the bottles “until the vast majority of the water had been given away free and just a small proportion of the UU bottled water remained”.

They said they decided to store the leftover bottles of water to be given away at college events, such as open events and charity fund-raisers, and for internal hospitality purposes.

But it has been revealed that some of the bottles of water were sold to students for around 70p each by the college’s catering team.

A spokesman for the college said: “The brand SAKA that we have sold for a number of years is the same as the brand that we were given by UU and the bottles look very similar.

“The senior team were clear that the UU water must not be sold, but it seems that this message was not clearly communicated to all members of the catering team .

“As a result, it would seem that a small number of UU bottles have been inadvertently sold.

“We have taken immediate steps to prevent the sale of any more UU water.

“We are very sorry that some students appear to have been charged for bottles of UU water.

“Students have been able to get chilled free water from our water dispensers since Monday, September 7.

“We much prefer students to use this free source of water, rather than buy bottled water, as it is more environmentally friendly and less costly (free) for them.”

The college has now donated the money raised from selling the bottles of water to charity.

The spokesman said: “The money collected at the college through the accidental sale of UU water bottles has been estimated at £250, so the college has donated this amount to the current college charity The Good Rock Foundation, which supports orphaned and abandoned children in China.”