United Utilities has been fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £150,000 as a result of a water contamination incident in 2015.

The prosecution was brought by the UK’s Drinking Water Inspectorate after an incident at one of the company’s water treatment plants led to 700,000 people being unable to drink their tap water. They were advised to boil it before consumption due to the presence of Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.

Animal waste containing the parasite had seeped into an underground water storage tank at the Franklaw treatment works in Lancashire, which meant it was no longer fit for human consumption.

In addition to the contamination occurring in the first instance, United Utilities were also criticised for the amount of time it took before people could drink their tap water again.

Chief inspector of drinking water Marcus Rink explained that the firm “failed to follow nationally recognised and published good practice in assessing the risks of returning stored water to critical stages within the treatment works”.

United Utilities pleaded guilty to the charges in July this year, and its chief executive Steve Mogford apologised for the incident and stated that the firm had learned lessons as a result.

The company has since invested in new technology at its plant to ensure this kind of contamination doesn’t happen again.

While investing in water filtration in Hertfordshire won’t protect you from rare incidents such as these, it will make your water taste better and remove many of the minerals that cause a buildup of limescale in your appliances.