TRACES of chemicals are responsible for the strange smell and taste in drinking water in the borough, Thames Water has confirmed.

Investigations carried out by the water company following 300 complaints about foul smelling tap water from residents in Walthamstow, Chingford and other parts of north east London, have revealed that “minute traces” of chemicals are present in the company's Walthamstow water works.

But Thames Water says it has no reason to believe there is a "significant risk" to public health.

The River Lea is believed to be the source of the contamination, because it supplies most of the water for north east London.

But Thames Water claim the chemicals are having no environmental impact on the river.

The chemicals are 2-EDD and 2-EMD, which occur as a by-product of manufacturing, but it is unknown how they contaminated the water.

Director of operational management for Thames Water, Bob Collington, said: “We have sought advice on these substances from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

"Although the levels found in water from our Walthamstow water treatment works have been enough for a small number of customers to notice and report an unusual smell, based on all the information we have seen to date we have no reason to believe that there is a significant risk to public health.

“We’ve made several adjustments to the treatment processes at our Walthamstow water works. Having now found the cause of the problem, we will be further adjusting our treatment processes to remove the substances from customers’ water.”

Thames water stopped sourcing water from the River Lee last week and have instead been taking it from the River Thames.

Mr Collington added: “We are sorry to those who have been affected by this.

"We’re taking it extremely seriously and we’re working to sort this problem out as quickly as possible.”

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