Residents left unconvinced after Thames Water dismiss contamination fears

Residents in Beckenham have been left concerned after a number of people reported becoming ill with stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea in a water contamination scare.

Retired NHS consultant Tony Rao, 58, of Park Langley, Beckenham said he developed  diarrhoea and nausea on May 21, after drinking a glass of squash using tap water.

He said: “It improved over the day, but the same thing happened again twice that week. 

“After the third time, I started boiling tap water and the symptoms went away.”

According to The Guardian, those struck by the illness in Beckenham include a four-year-old boy who suffered days of vomiting, and a woman who was so unwell she went to hospital with stomach pain, vomiting and dehydration.

Thames Water sent samples of water from a property in Beckenham for lab testing on May 22, after concerned customers contacted the business.

A spokesman from Thames Water said: “Initial on site testing carried out by our accredited technician did not indicate an aesthetic issue with the water, further samples were also collected for laboratory analysis and results showed no concerns.”

Tony Rao (Picture: Tony Rao)

Cross-party councillors in the area have raised their concern over the incident.

Thomas Turrell, a Bromley Conservative councillor and London Assembly Member said: “I am pleased that the test results came back clear. As a resident in the Beckenham area myself it is worrying to hear rumours of issues in the local water supply.”

Jeremy Adams, Labour councillor for Clock House Ward in Beckenham, said councillors are “closely monitoring” concerns about illnesses in the area.

He said: “Thames Water wrote to us on Tuesday stating that it has tested specifically for cryptosporidium – a disease that can cause symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting – and that there have been no outbreaks at the water treatment works supplying this area.”

The contamination scare in Beckenham comes just weeks after cryptosporidium was detected in the water supply in the Brixham area of Devon.

Councillor Adams said testing of water samples from several homes in Beckenham is still taking place.

A Thames Water spokeswoman said: “Where customers have reported an issue we are undertaking tests, all of which have so far come back showing that London’s water remains at our usual high quality, wholesome standards.

“We have carried out extensive testing in the Beckenham area since last week. This includes tests from 16 homes all of which have come back clear.

“We are continuing to test in the area, to provide reassurance. “

From left, Steve Reed, Feargal Sharkey and Liam Conlon at Chaffinch Brook in Beckenham on Tuesday (Picture: London Labour)

But, Mr Rao said he did not feel reassured by the companies response.

He said: “I cannot help thinking, on a wider scale, whether this is connected to water pollution.

“If this starts to happen more often across the country, it is a pitiful reflection of how clean our water really is.”

On Tuesday, Steve Reed, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, visited Chaffinch Brook in Beckenham, alongside campaigner and musician Feargal Sharkey and parliamentary candidate Liam Conlon to call out the “sewage scandal” affecting the area.

Chaffinch Brook alone saw 13 raw sewage dumps across 25 hours in 2023. Across London, new data analysis from City Hall shows that between April 2023 and March 2024, Thames Water released sewage into London’s waterways for 12,105 hours and 37 minutes, almost four times the amount for the same period the previous year.

Mr Conlon said: “While it is a relief to hear that tests for drinking water quality have come back clear, the anxiety of recent days is understandable. 

“Residents rightly demand that our water system is clean – from river to tap.”

Pictured top: From left, Steve Reed, Feargal Sharkey and Liam Conlon at Chaffinch Brook in Beckenham on Tuesday (Picture: London Labour)

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