Kettering water feature was ‘contaminated with faeces’

The Market Place fountains.
The Market Place fountains.

An investigation into water quality at a popular water feature in Kettering has indicated that it was contaminated with faeces.

Tests on water in the town’s Market Place were carried out during Kettering by the Sea, which was visited by hundreds of children this summer.

Kimmi with her daughter Skylar.

Kimmi with her daughter Skylar.

Those tests found there to be 48 cfu (colony forming units) of enterococci per 100ml - leaving the water ‘not fit for purpose’.

A spokesman for Pathology Management Services, which carried out the tests, said: “The interim report was issued to highlight that there is a potential problem with this outlet.

“The presence of pseudomonas spp on its own is not a potential problem.

“The presence of this strain of the organism creates biofilms which can lead to problems with taste.

“However, the presence of enterococci indicates that there is faecal contamination rendering the water not fit for purpose.”

The test results were made public when Kettering mum Kimmi Foster’s daughter Skylar, four, fell ill after playing in the water on August 4.

Miss Foster, 28, said: “We went to the feature for Kettering by the Sea and Skylar was just playing in the fountains like kids do.

“Two days later she had a temperature of 40 degrees and it wouldn’t go down.

“She was ill for about a week and I put it on Facebook that she was poorly and my friends who were there said their kids were poorly as well and they knew of others.”

After hearing of the results, Miss Foster said it was ‘pretty grim’.

She said: “It’s disgusting, it just seems crazy that that stuff like that can happen.

“It’s pretty grim.

“She [Skylar] is not the sort of kid who drinks the water, she was just playing.”

Kettering Council says that the systems were backwashed daily during the event, with filters cleaned out and a chemical dosing plant checked on a daily basis.

After receiving the results, the council continued with its backwashing regime.

A council spokesman said: “The fountains on Kettering’s Market Place are provided as a water feature and children play in them during the Kettering by the Sea event.

“By the very nature of the installation, this water is not, and cannot be expected to be, drinking water or to a drinking water standard.

“During the Kettering by the Sea event we are aware that there is an increased risk of contamination so backwashing is carried out daily.

“This deals with enterococci contamination within the system.

“Cleaning of filters and full flushing of the system is also increased to twice per month.”

There is no suggestion that the water is contaminated at the present time.

The council spokesman said it ‘simply couldn’t comment’ on whether the contamination had caused Skylar’s illness.

It also refuted the laboratory’s claim that the water wasn’t fit for purpose.

The spokesman added: “We do not know what the illness was and we have not been shown any test evidence that might indicate the cause of any illness.

“The laboratory is not in a position to say the water was not ‘fit for purpose’, as the purpose is as a water feature – it is neither drinking water nor a swimming pool.

“We would of course encourage parents to make sure that children don’t try to drink the water.”