Welsh Water admits untreated sewage dumped near dolphin habitat for decades

Welsh Water has admitted dumping raw sewage near rare dolphin habitat for at least a decade.

A BBC investigation found the water company illegally discharged untreated sewage into dozens of sewage plants, often for years.

The organization promised to solve the problems after looking at the analysis, which it did not dispute.

Water companies in England and Wales often discharge sewage into rivers and seas. Last year in England, storm water overflowed more than 300,000 times.

Peter Hammond, a former UCL professor who campaigns for Windrush Against Sewage, compiled the data which showed Welsh Water was discharging sewage before it reached its prescribed discharge level, meaning that it should have cleared it but it didn’t. He asked the Welsh Rivers Trust as well as local fishermen for suggestions for outfalls to consider.

Sewer systems overflow during heavy rains, and companies are allowed to discharge when they reach a certain level to prevent waste from backing up into homes, but not before.

Data from 11 sewage plants in Wales found that 10 were releasing untreated waste before their intended discharge levels were reached. The worst producer was Cardigan, which spilled more than 200 days a year in 2019-22, and it almost never treated the sewage it was supposed to. The treatment plant discharges into the Teif estuary, home to one of Europe’s largest populations of bottlenose dolphins. Welsh Water responded by saying the water at nearby Poppit Sands beach was rated excellent.

Sewer graphics

Hammond told the Guardian that dumping sewage into rare dolphin habitat really upset me. He added: Dolphins are only found regularly in two places: Wales and Scotland. And they fall on one of them.

This pattern is repeated in England. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court heard that 52% of the 14,000 storm drains monitored in 2022 were discharged more than 10 times. Eleven percent released raw sewage more than 60 times. As such they breached the Urban Wastewater (England and Wales) Act 1994. England’s Environment Agency recently announced that ministers may have broken the law on sewage disposal.

Welsh Water told the BBC that 40 to 50 waste water treatment plants were currently operating in breach of their permits and that decisions to improve were made based on customer accounts.

The spokesperson added. With the Cardigan works in particular, we had already identified the problem of salt water ingress affecting the treatment process. We have reported this to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and have agreed to invest in improving the situation. They are now investing another 20 million to ensure compliance with their emissions permit and have reported the issues to NRW.

Hammond replied. In the case of Cardigan, this has been known for 10 years. And it’s clear that Welsh Water hasn’t messed with it. You know, they say they tried different solutions but nothing worked.

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He said he believes they installed their current system in 2004 and have known about the problems for at least 10 years. So you would think they would have put the money in by now.

Huel Manley, head of NRW’s South West Wales operations, told the BBC:

But we are working with England to set national guidelines so that we have a more standardized approach to how and when we go about that pursuit.

The representative of “Wells Water” company said: We have over 5,000 environmental permits as Wales has the largest number of treatment works, pumping stations and storm drains in the UK. We continuously monitor, and when we find problems, we share this data with regulators, investigate and make improvements. We invest about 1 million a day to improve our services.

We always aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, to limit any impact on both the environment and our customers.

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Image Source : www.theguardian.com

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