THE water scare in Lancashire is being treated as a criminal investigation, it has been revealed.
But the Drinking Water Inspectorate insists its probe into cryptosporidium contamination of supplies to more than 300,000 consumers does not involve the police.
Cleaning and filtration systems at the Franklaw Treatment Plant near Garstang are believed to be the focus of the inquiry.
As the alert affecting Preston, South Ribble, Chorley, the Fylde Coast and parts of Blackburn approached its 13th day, the independent regulator for the water industry in the UK confirmed its investigation was still ongoing.
“It is a criminal investigation,” said a DWI spokesman. “But it is not a police investigation.
“It is normal procedure to do this in circumstances like this. Obviously, given the nature of our investigation, we cannot comment on what is going to happen.
“Once we have reached a conclusion then our findings will be made public.”
The DWI, which works with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, could recommend criminal charges if United Utilities, the company which runs Franklaw, is found to have been negligent.
In 2005 Welsh Water was fined £60,000 with £70,000 costs after a cryptosporidium outbreak in North Wales.
A United Utilities spokesman commented: “We have always said the DWI would be carrying out a thorough independent investigation.
“Our role is just to return the water supply to its normal high standard. But we will obviously be co-operating with the DWI throughout the course of their investigation.
“As a company we wouldn’t speculate about what the DWI will be doing or where the investigation will go. That is for them to decide.”