Water providers SES Water have issued an urgent warning for residents in the Oxted area this evening (Thursday, October 7) over a potential E. coli bacteria contamination of their water supply.

In a press release urging residents in the affected area (see here) to boil tap water, SES Water said that routine tests showed that water supplies "in Oxted and the surrounding areas" could be affected by the E. coli bacteria.

E. coli bacteria if commonly found in the gut of most people and animals, but can cause serious health issues if it contaminates more vulnerable areas like wounds, or drinking water supplies. Contamination of water by E-coli can be an indicator of contamination of water by animals or sewage.

A spokesperson for SES Water said:

"The water company has issued the precautionary advice after routine testing at Westwood Treatment Works found that tap water quality might be affected. Customers in the affected areas are advised to boil water before using it for drinking, preparing food and cleaning teeth. A full list of all postcode areas can be found on our website using this link. Any pets in the affected postcodes should also be given boiled tap water. Boiled water can be kept in the fridge, and should be covered and used within 24 hours."

They added that there was "no need" to boil water for the purposes of "bathing, washing, or flushing the toilet".

SES Water’s Wholesale Director Tom Kelly added the following statement, apologising to impacted residents:

"Until we get results that reconfirm Oxted’s water supply is okay to consume, we are asking our customers to boil water for drinking, food preparation and cleaning teeth as a precaution," he said. "I realise this will be worrying and highly inconvenient to our customers, and I want to apologise and reassure them we are working around the clock to ensure they can use their water supply normally again as quickly as possible."

The water company said on Thursday evening they were not yet sure how long the situation would last.

SES Water were contacted for further comment.