A PROBE is under way after traces of poo were discovered in a Peeblesshire hamlet's water supply.

Residents living near Castle Craig hospital have received warnings and advice from environmental health officers following the discovery.

Initial tests on tanks which provide water to the addiction centre as well as nine neighbouring houses revealed traces of faeces at the end of July.

And the levels of E coli, Coliform bacteria and Enterococci which were found are deemed to 'pose a risk to the health of anyone using the supply' according to experts.

An environmental health spokesman stated: "These organisms should not be in the water supply.

"They are only found in the gut of warm blooded animals and so, if detected in a water sample, this indicates faecal contamination of the water supply and the possible presence of other disease-causing organisms."

The contamination was first discovered towards the end of last month after the two private supply tanks at the hospital near the Blyth Bridge were topped up after levels had run low due to the recent drought.

Water, with permission from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, was drawn from the nearby River Tarth and transported to the wells by a container vehicle.

But neighbours of the hospital soon raised concerns over the colouring and taste of the water coming out of their taps.

Castle Craig's service development manager Donald Whitaker responded by having samples from each tank analysed.

And he alerted neighbours when the results arrived to the positive E coli results.

Scottish Borders Council's environmental health team were called in and are now awaiting results from their own samples.

They have also launched their own investigation into how the initial contamination occurred.

A spokesperson for the local authority told us: “We are aware of this situation and it is currently being investigated by our Environmental Health team.

“In the meantime, residents have been issued with health advice on alternative water supplies for consumption and food preparation.

"Water samples have been submitted for analysis and the results are pending.”

Castle Craig uses both ultra-violet and ozone purification systems before water reaches its own taps.

And letters, which were first sent out in 2002 by the hospital's owners, reminded residents who use the supply that purification processes were the responsibility of each individual household.

This week Castle Craig founder Peter McCann said: "Castle Craig is responsible for the supply of water but each household that uses the supply is responsible for purification.

"The glorious summer led to a water shortage and action had to be taken to make sure there was a water supply.

"We are awaiting the results of the second lot of tests before we can determine what needs to be done.

"At the hospital we use a rigorous purification system and the people living nearby know they should be doing likewise."

Results from secondary analysis on the water tanks is due in the next few days.