EXETER'S MP Ben Bradshaw has received assurances from Carillion bosses that long-running water problems at city schools will soon be resolved.
The company has spent around £1m trying to fix issues with the water supply at Exeter's secondary schools, built under a private finance initiative (PFI).
St Peter's School has been relying on bottled water for drinking since it opened in 2006, when blue water was first detected coming out of a drinking fountain. It is understood the problem was associated with copper piping.
At West Exe Technology College, high levels of metals and Legionella bacteria were discovered in the water supply, which has now been put right.
There have also been issues affecting tap water at St James School, Isca College of Media Arts, St Luke's Science and Sports College and Wynstream Primary School.
Mr Bradshaw said: "Carillion were clearly concerned about the damage to their reputation from the ongoing water problems at some of the schools. They gave me a clear and unequivocal assurance that any outstanding problems either had been or shortly will be resolved. Devon County Council needs to hold them to that assurance."
Papers released by Devon County Council revealed an incident where a Carillion employee falsified a reading taken at St Peter's.
Pipe replacement and disinfecting was carried out over the summer at West Exe but there are still problems at St Peter's.
Since meeting Rob Holt, Carillion managing director, Tim Smith, local partnership director for the Carillion PFI Schools, and Anne Toms, government affairs manager for the school, Mr Bradshaw received a letter in which Mr Holt affirmed that when the metals test was falsified, bottled water was already being used so there was "never an issue of risk". The incident was investigated and dealt with by the company's human resources department.
In addition to extensive work at West Exe to rectify the issue of elevated metals levels, he confirmed that drinking fountains had been replaced and a programme of assurance testing had been arranged. He added that at locations where a risk still exists, fittings will be changed again.
Mr Holt said the safety of pupils and teachers has been the firm's priority, adding: "I am confident that all currently available drinking water in the schools is 100 per cent safe.
"We have a good relationship with the schools and have appreciated the fact that they have been extraordinarily patient during this process." He pledged his "personal commitment to the successful resolution" of the issue, which is the company's "highest priority".