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190726 | The curious case of Hayle’s drinking water, where the taps still work even when the mains supply is switched off

The curious case of Hayle’s drinking water, where the taps still work even when the mains supply is switched off

Posted By theboss on 26th July 2019

By Graham Smith

People in Hayle are being urged to report “ghost” drinking water supplies, following concern that some properties might not be connected exclusively to South West Water’s treatment works at Lostwithiel, more than 40 miles away.

The theory that some homes might have a dual-supply, and are still drawing drinking water from historic underground sources, has developed as residents raised the issue with Labour Party activists while campaigning.

Now Paul Farmer, Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Camborne, Redruth and Hayle constituency, is calling for a meeting with South West Water.

About 50 people attended a public meeting in Hayle last night (Thursday) to hear of several incidences where water continues to be available to domestic taps even when the main supply is turned off. Some people described how parts of Hayle had once been marshland.

Mr Farmer said that SWW, a private company, should not be charging people for water unless it could prove that it was their exclusive supplier. He called for an investigation to find out where mysterious domestic water supplies were coming from.

South West Water’s huge Restormel treatment works, near Lostwithiel, upgraded in 2015 at a cost of £14.5 million, supplies more than two-thirds of Cornwall’s homes – including some up to 50 miles away. The company says supplies to the Hayle area meet the statutory requirements of the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

In January, Cornwall Council – which has for years been trying to investigate the “Hayle mystery” – admitted defeat and called on the government for help.

The most likely explanation appears to be that the mystery is in some way connected to the vast complex of underground industrial pipes, chambers and leats, once a part of the Hayle area’s tin and copper mining archaeology.

One resident, Mel Sheridan, has fought a 13 year campaign after an ancient water pipe, in the road outside her house, collapsed – leading to severe damage to her home.

The Hayle area is also subject to frequent flooding, and the nearby St Erth sewage works has also been the source of controversy due to the famous “pong.” Some people believe the various subterranean issues in the Hayle area are related.

Local MP George Eustice, who has been under pressure from local residents to act, recently introduced a Bill into Parliament to extend to former tin mining areas the same statutory protection as enjoyed by former coal mining areas.