A Highland water supply has been given the all-clear by health chiefs – but locals were last night adamant there was still a problem.
Residents in Badenoch and Strathspey have complained about tap water quality since Scottish Water opened a new multimillion-pound treatment works in Aviemore five years ago. Many have blamed the water for skin complaints.
But Ken Oates, NHS Highland’s consultant in public health medicine, has concluded that the strath’s supply “is technically of higher quality than it was historically”.
The inquiry considered data involving patients from all three local practices referred to the dermatology outpatients at Raigmore Hospital.
The report states that there was no rise in the number of prescriptions for relevant skin products.
George Jachacy, who retired in April after 10 years as the senior partner at the Aviemore Medical Practice, said last night he was confident the water was safe.
But he added: “The one missing link is that if they’re quoting data they should have more data from the pharmacies.
“There’s a conclusion that there’s no evidence of an increased incidence of skin conditions caused by the water supply. Well, I’d seen the data before it was sent back to them – and it did show there was a rise in emollient (skin hydration cream) prescribing.”
Kincraig community councillors and Holyrood petitioners on the issue, Caroline Hayes and Lesley Dudgeon, were astonished by the verdict.
After reading the board’s conclusions, Lesley Dudgeon said: “I don’t understand how they can make the statements they’ve made when the information contradicts that of the local surgery and pharamacies.”
The petition, signed by hundreds, calls for a review of the safety of chloramination of tap water.
The campaign attracted support from renowned US environmental activist Erin Brockovich.
A chloramination water treatment process, introduced to address taste and odour issues, involves chlorine and ammonia being added to the supply. Scottish Water says the supply is compliant with required standards.
Local Highland councillor Bill Lobban branded the report a “desktop statistical analysis” that failed to get to the root of a problem.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Water said: “We’d like to thank our customers for their patience and ask anyone experiencing issues with their water in future to contact us.”