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Discoloured water in Balcombe

There's a lot of Twitter noise this morning about Balcombe residents experiencing discoloured water. It must be Caudrilla, is the insinuation. Many such tweets are pointing to a video by "local resident Carl Lee".

It's probably not worth watching the whole thing; you will get the gist fairly quickly. Mr Lee turns out to be fairly active in the anti-fracking campaign, so you can imagine what it's like.

Anyway, from the video we learn that the water company concerned is South East Water. A brief perusal of their website turns up this:

I have heard reports of discoloured tap water in Balcombe. What is the current situation?

Balcombe is not supplied by local groundwater but by water taken from the River Ouse near Lewes and treated. South East Water was first contacted by a small number of customers in relation to Balcombe residents experiencing discoloured tap water on Friday 9th August. Our field team took samples of tap water from Balcombe and subsequent tests of these samples have shown the water as being fully compliant with drinking water standards (as set out in the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2000). We hope that this reassures our customers. 
On 15th August a burst water main in the area caused discoloured water for some customers for a short period of time while repairs were carried out. The main was flushed clear and returned to service.

If anyone is still experiencing any issues with their water supplies, please contact us.

 In related news, Cuadrilla have now restarted drilling operations.

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Reader Comments (42)

Discoloured water eh. Our doom is nigh as the human race. I don't think I've read anything better on this general tendency than Daniel Hannan two days ago:

If you begin from the conviction that fracking must be a bad thing, you will easily convince yourself that it is also unsafe. As usual, people’s elephants (their intuition) lurch first, leaving their riders (their conscious thought) to rationalise the lurch. Fracking might poison the water, protest the mahouts. It might harm the wildlife! It might, er, cause earthquakes!

Well, yes, in the sense that any ground movement is an earthquake. In this case, the tremor will be ‘about the same as the impact of dropping a bottle of milk’. But we’re dealing here with gut feelings, not logic: if you look hard enough, you’ll always find something to hang your doubts on.

Is there an equivalent bias the other way around? Are shale enthusiasts so taken with the vision of cheaper energy and renewed economic growth that they subconsciously depress safety concerns? Very probably. Which is why we should assume that the partisans of both sides are biased, and look at the empirical evidence. Fortunately, there is quite a lot of evidence from the US, where fracking has been practised for years without any of the dreadful consequences cited by opponents. If anything, Britain has been over-cautious, holding up the process for political rather than empirical reasons. (‘My reliances on his fracted dates have smit my credit,’ says Shakespeare who, as I never tire of pointing out, predicted every human situation. Hat-tip to Adrian Hilton for that gem.)

Just as Rhoda did recently I particularly appreciated Hannan admitting that we all show motivated reasoning to some degree. It makes the argument that much stronger.

Aug 23, 2013 at 9:24 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Keep repeating the big lie- this is a well trodden tactic.

Used by the Nazis in the 1930s & 1940s and now adopted by the ecofascists.

Aug 23, 2013 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

This is simply a sign of things to come.

Tile falls of your roof? It will be due to fracking.
Road subsidence? It will be due to fracking.
Discoloured water? It will be due to fracking.
Dead plants in your garden? It will be due to fracking.
etc etc etc.

They currently blame every high/low temperature/rain/tornado/hurricane on climate change and you can see that, in the public eye, a lot of it sticks. They will do exactly the same with fracking. Anything that causes the slightest bit of disruption to peoples lives will be blamed on it.

Aug 23, 2013 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

I looked through half of it - it actually seems quite a reasonable interview.

There seems to have been some minor glitch with the local water, and Mr Lee, who has obviously been inundated with frightening misinformation, is concerned. I can see why.

A problem is that the government, having pushed 'green' concepts continually, are unable to put out an official statement about the safety of fracking. Having lied continually about their infrastructure provision, and having made lots of money from the companies they support, government credibility is at an all-time low on this subject.

The field has been left to the environmentalist scaremongers, ably supported by the BBC who have never let an opportunity to smear fracking go by. Even if you only see a tenth of their output you would be scared. I am not surprised to see a local resident not knowing what to believe, and being very unwilling to accept the latest government line...

Aug 23, 2013 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Green Water, have the Green's been infusing the local water supply with mind bending drugs? Or have the protestors just been p***ing in it?

/sarc off

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJaceF

Well, yes, but when is Mr Lee going to have another opportunity to bed a druid?

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Government needs to step in and inform the public, in a fair and honest manner, of the work done showing that franking is safe. They have to reiterate the message until the Ecofascist propaganda is recognised for what it really is. But, first and foremost, they must constantly remind the public that there is no franking in Balcombe. And that the protestors are misleading the public.

However, I have to agree with Dodgy Geezer, who will believe them after hearing all political parties preach Green propaganda for so many years? Reap what one sows comes to mind.

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Brute: Fair point.

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:17 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Over use of fertilisers, then run off into local water storage and ponds causes microbiological changes in the water.
In August, algal blooms, pigmented phyotoplankton growth are common in areas of fresh water, even in drinking water catchment reservoirs. Algal blooms are more common, particularly so - after a prolonged warm weather period.
A storm surge rainfall event can upset the local supply of potable drinking water in that, the local treatment works can be [inundated] affected with reservoir storage water being pumped into the system untreated.
Algal blooms are tinged blueish green.

The chances of drinking supply contamination, It is rather unlikely - non existent - that the Balcombe rig has anything to to do with it.

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Pity that Mr Lee didn't seem to be able to keep a sample of his green water, nor provide a video/photo of it.

He seems a fairly media savvy guy otherwise. It would be a better story with some actual evidence.

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

If I were Cuadrilla, I'd look busy for a couple of weeks, but keep the drill out of the ground and wait for a whole heap of spurious 'evidence' that can then be totally ridiculed. Might be worth it.

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Does his water come from main supply (i.e. elsewhere) of from a local well?

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:56 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

"Balcombe is not supplied by local groundwater"

Oh dear.

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Some of the Crustys probably been skinny dipping in the reservoir.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

It's probably just a leak from Harvey's Brewery, on the banks of the Ouse in Lewes, they should be grateful.....

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:10 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Bloke down the pub: that is quite a dreadful picture! My mind is now filled with pictures of the likes of Prajna and druidesses in the nuddy, frolicking my drinking water – and that has fair put me off… well, everything!

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. The greens certainly don't.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered Commentercd

Some of the Crustys probably been skinny dipping in the reservoir.
Aug 23, 2013 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered Commenter Bloke down the pub

Quite possible.
All that soap dodging will have consequences.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterWairarapa Will

I may have missed something but I was under the impression that Cuadrilla hadn't even done any fraccing in Balcombe yet.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeuromancer

How is it that I feel the UK equivalent of gaslands is in the making? the big problem is going to be finding burning taps because 98.7% (taken from fresh air) of drinking water in the UK is processed and cleaned before being allowed into the domestic supply.

Aug 23, 2013 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterivan

Mains water in the UK is all treated regardless of origin. Mains repairs frequently taste strongly of chlorine due to aggressive decontamination after repairs have been carried out. This could result in a greenish tinge to the water. This will be the Balcombe problem NOT the drilling.

Another ''repairs'' problem is white water due to introduced air which is released in the glass. If this white floats and disappears it is air if it falls to the bottom of the glass it is some form of contaminant. Do Not Drink.

Aug 23, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

High rainfall can increase turbidity( sediment ) in rivers and reservoirs which provide the public supply. Surface water will probably have slightly higher iron content due to run off from iron rich strata. Pipe bursts can results in iron in water supply. Algal blooms can cause problems in surface supplies. Green colour would suggest copper, it would be easy to analyse. Have had iron in water : 'phoned SE Water and they told me to run taps: did so and problem solved after few hours. It was mains burst.

Aug 23, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

I'm surprised that Mr. Lee is not insisting on being supplied with Organic water.

Aug 23, 2013 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard of NZ

The "green water" thing is a week old, the Land Agent was 'confronted' by protesters wielding a camera, he said (paraphrasing) " I've heard the rumors, something about green water, we own over 100 properties in the village if there was a problem with the water we'd know about it, besides the water is supplied from elsewhere in pipes it's not connected to what they're doing here"

The Land agent is about he only sensible chap I've seen PR wise on any media, which is probably why we've not seen him in the main steam, the whole affair seems staged managed from the get go.

Aug 23, 2013 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Richard of NZ: Those CO2 bubbles are a blast and I presume make the beverage organic to boot. Which reminds me of one of my favourite passages from David Coe so far:

I have similarly struggled. My conclusion would have to be along the lines of your item 1. i.e. total bollocks.

My contention is that Henry's law applies. The partial pressure exerted by the solvated CO2 is proportional to the concentration of that CO2. It doesn't matter what confusions you throw into the argument by the equilibrium conditions of carbonate chemistry, Henry's law applies. Because of its widespread use in the food and drink industry the dissolution properties of CO2 are probably the most widely studied of all gases. The paper by Carrol and Mather summarised the results of dozens of researchers and concluded that it applies with only slight modification up to pressures of a 1000atmos, and not a single mention of a Revelle factor.

I am afraid that I support the view that it is simply an artifact, wrapped up in mumbo jumbo, to explain something that was not understood 60 years ago. Nobody has since thought to question it or perhaps, more significantly, wanted to question it. It is outside the mainstream arguments of climate science. That it forms part of the syllabus of university oceanography courses is nothing short of a disgrace. A generation of so called scientists have been conned. As you say it would be interesting to hear what a real chemist might have to say.

Looking at the ongoing debate between David and Ferdinand Engelbeen one has to say Bishop Hill is a remarkable place.

Aug 23, 2013 at 1:26 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

The very definition of alarmism.

Aug 23, 2013 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterharkin

But they haven't done any...fracking fracking...!

Aug 23, 2013 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

sherlock1: Yes, the green water shows the desperate health dangers of NOT fracking. The colour was the giveaway.

Aug 23, 2013 at 2:17 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

@ Peter Stroud 1015am
"Government needs to step in and inform the public, in a fair and honest manner, of the work done showing that franking is safe."

Well. the Post Office does it every day many times with nary a mishap...

Aug 23, 2013 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell

I sesrched for Chalybeate springs Balcombe England, and guess what..,

Its natural innit.


Aug 23, 2013 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chorley

Hannan: "Are shale enthusiasts so taken with the vision of cheaper energy and renewed economic growth that they subconsciously depress safety concerns? Very probably."

I would say, for most of them, very probably not!

They will know that until they get permission to even plan a test drill, there is nothing to be enthusiastic about. Those that participate in the process will have had safety "drilled into them" from earlier work. It is part of the Engineering process, just as much as crossing the road. You can be enthusiastic about going to play in the park without forgetting the Highway Code! So Hannan's argument is not sound.

The area that should be of concern is the misleading statements that the Greenies make that are not questioned (enough) by journalists, for example:
1) There is a difference between earth tremors and earthquakes
2) After many decades of being used without any major problems, fraccing has suddenly become controversial because of Greenie protests, probably due to it showing up how futile windmills are at generating a dependable energy source and, in fact, generating extra CO2! Switching from coal to shale gas actually reduces CO2 emissions!
3) Water use in fraccing is small compared to the amount leaking away in water company pipes
4) There are ALREADY regulations, including licencing, to control what can be done and in what way it can be done, and these are rarely mentioned at all.
5) This talk of handing money over to local authorities and /or private individuals, when so little has been accomplished is so premature. Even though no private individuals received payments from owing North Sea oil mineral rights, many individuals (who worked in the industry) and the country benefited. I am not saying that payment should not be made, only that the view that if councils and private individuals do not receive massive payments, based on revenue no doubt rather than profit, then it is a waste of time, is not correct.
6) To say that Shale Gas could supply the country's energy needs for 30 years is COMPLETELY missing the point. Supplying a quarter of the requirements for 120 years would help to reduce the cost of the other three quarters of the energy supply, because foreigners could not hold us to ransom quite so easily. That is what is exciting!
7) Lastly, for the moment, we need a cheap, dependable energy source NOW! It is not as if we don't need it. We are still closing coal fired power stations and planning on using diesel generators housed in hospitals and hotels (generating extra CO2 to avoid an ice age?) in order to have enough generating capacity to stop people dying of cold in the next few winters.

Aug 23, 2013 at 9:07 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

There are a lot of shills on here.. pro frackers probably employed by Cuadrilla, Government etc....! BEWARE...the usual aggressive aka defensive tactics.. always follows the same format... of extreme BS!

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterana.m

What a load of Bo....cks

Sorry about the bad language Bishop but its true.

Aug 24, 2013 at 12:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Does he believe in alien abduction too? Crumbs, a nutter, but dangerous. Tell lies, escalate the lies, but thankfully most people will recognise him for what he is. But what a neighbour, can you imagine the trouble he causes, how do you get someone like that off your back, knowing he's watching your every move?

Aug 24, 2013 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe PrangWizard of England

Warter, warter everywhere and not a drop to drink?
I stopped watching this diatribe after Mr Lee said a lorry driver tried to run over his son?
This video should be available on general release to the public as it certainly supports the idea that it is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool than opening it and confirming it.
Lies, damned lies and ecofascists.

Aug 24, 2013 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Why didn't he conclude that, as his water had turned green, it must be due to the Green Activists?

Aug 24, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

Lorry tried to run over his son.So is his phone being tapped by the security services.

Aug 24, 2013 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Haven't the protesters gone home yet..? I mean - kids to get back to school; teaching posts to be filled...
When they do, can a nice meeja photographer let us have clear, untouched photos of the condition that these 'environmentalists' leave the 'environment' in..?

Aug 24, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

A must watch video.... the latest from Balcombe... Fracking aka destroying our environment, water table is NOT an option, there is a revolution underway in this country. Decent, informed people from ALL walks of society who CARE about the future integrity of our fair land and its people are at last, speaking out in their hundreds of thousands... everywhere. NOTHING can stop this now. This is just the beginning....

Aug 24, 2013 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterana.m

Interesting, he believes the government have lied to us yet relies on government sources to assert that fracked gas won't bring energy prices down. Not very bright is he?

Aug 25, 2013 at 7:58 AM | Unregistered Commentersunderlandsteve

I also like the way he urges people to do their research and check the facts online when he clearly hasn't! Unless of course he only visits Cook/Nuccitellis' world.

Aug 25, 2013 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered Commentersunderlandsteve

This is what someone posted on Youtube.

1) No fracking has occurred at the site. It is an oil well, and no fracking permit has been issued.

2) His water comes from surface source not ground water.

3) His water company has already gone public having told him he had a water main break, before this video was made.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterzefal

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