Hospitals, homeless charities and animal shelters have been faced with a battle to secure safe drinking wateras the water supply chaos continues across the county.
A health warning issued by United Utilities on Thursday is set to remain in place until next week. Around 300,000 residents have been urged to boil their drinking water after traces of the bug cryptosporidium – a microscopic parasite which can cause stomach cramps and diarrhoea - was found at Franklaw Water treatment plant in Catterall, near Garstang.
Organisations which work with vulnerable people and animals have been struggling to cope following the warnings, with some charities calling for donations of bottled water.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals sourced 50,000 litres of water following the announcement, to be provided to patients and staff at its hospitals in Preston and Chorley.
Charities have called for extra donations and supermarket shelves were stripped bare as people rushed to stock up.
Meanwhile, investigations were under way into how the bug, commonly found in animals such as livestock, found its way into water at the treatment works.
United Utilities said samples taken from the site were “continuing to reduce”, and cards were being put through the letterboxes of affected homes.
They were taking bottled water to vulnerable customers, including the elderly, those with medical conditions and those on dialysis.
But bosses at United Utilities urged people not to panic-buy bottled water and to boil it instead, making it safe to drink and also getting the water out of the network quicker.
Hospital chiefs said there was no evidence the incident had affected any patients or caused an increase in attendance to the Emergency Department.
A spokesman for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals said: “We have sourced more than 50,000 litres of bottled water which we are providing to patients and staff.
“We are awaiting further advice from United Utilities before reinstating the use of the mains water supply.”
Preston-based charity the Foxton Centre was calling for donations of bottled water for today’s “Sat Caf”, where 60 to 70 people were expected.
And supermarkets were working to provide extra water, as customers cleared the shelves.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “On Tuesday night we delivered additional supplies of bottled water to seven supermarkets, and an additional ten pallets were on their way yesterday afternoon.
“We’ve also provided a large quantity of water to Royal Preston Hospital to help them remain operational.”
The RSPCA advised people to follow the same guidelines for animals as for humans.
John Wareing, manager of Preston’s RSPCA animal rescue centre, said he had been transporting water from outside the affected area to give to the animals.
United Utilities said the warning for people in Preston, Chorley, Fylde, South Ribble, Wyre and Blackpool, would be in place until next week.
Dr. Martin Padley, United Utilities’ chief scientific officer, said: “We’d like to thank customers for their immense patience as we work to restore normal service.
“As a precaution, we’d ask people to continue to boil their water for drinking, food preparation and brushing of teeth until further notice.
“The boiled water notice will apply throughout the weekend, and most likely, into the early part of next week.
“We’ll continue to keep customers informed.”
For more on the water contamination in Lancashire visit the links below: