Inaugural Meeting of the 'Save The Teifi Group' in Cilgerran 25-Aug-2022
Cambrian News and The TivySide Advertiser reported on our first meeting on 25 August and explains some of the problems and challenges. You can read them here:
1. Cambrian News: Teifi water quality under the microscope (Click to see original: Teifi Water Quality *)
Ffynnone-Resilience, a community group that is trying to highlight climate change and improving the environment at local level, organised a meeting on water quality on Thursday, 25 August, in Cilgerran'
Untreated sewage has been released into the River Teifi on more than 240 recorded occasions during 2021 — with concerns growing that the river’s water quality is continuing to suffer.
The Teifi also suffers from what environmentalists say are “dangerous” levels of phosphate, lead or asbestos-lined pipes draining into the watercourse, and unregulated discharges.
The threat to the Telfi specifically and other watercourses in Wales generally were raised at a community meeting in Cilgerran on Thursday, 25 August, which was attended by almost 100 people.
The meeting was called by Ffynnone-Resilience, a community group that is trying to highlight climate change and improving the environment at local level.
While there may have been 240 recorded sewage releases during 2021, “there were not 240 storms last year,” Zoey Hope, the group’s treasurer said, indicating that Welsh Water — is failing in maintaining the quality of the Teifi.
A report by the Senedd’s Climate Change Committee released in March called on the Welsh Government to take urgent action to tackle sewage discharges made by water companies into Welsh rivers.
The report put forward a series of recommendations to protect Welsh waterways, calling on the Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS, to “immediately begin working with water companies to reduce the amount of raw sewage being dumped into rivers.”
It has been established practice that, when wastewater treatment works are overwhelmed with water following extreme rainfall, they are allowed to release untreated sewage via ‘storm overflows’ into rivers to manage the situation.
However, the committee noted these sewage spills are now more frequent. In 2016, there were just under 15,000 such incidents recorded by 545 monitors in Wales. By 2020, despite the number of monitors having only increased to 2,000; there were over 105,000 incidents of untreated sewage being dumped into Welsh watercourse.
The ‘Top of the Poops’ website run by clean water activists last week revealed sewage was dispatched into waterways in England and Wales 470,000 times during 2021, with 24,806 spills north Wales alone
Adding to the issue of poor water quality are the presence of pipes that contain lead and asbestos lining.
The meeting heard that levels of phosphates in the Teifi were “dangerously high” along three-quarters of its course, with for Pembrokeshire Cllr John T Davies telling the group that it had the highest levels of phosphates for rivers in special areas of conservation (SAC) in Wales.
Despite this, Cllr Davies said there were no plans to improve the infrastructure along the Teifi, simply because the Welsh Government was focusing improvements in areas with higher population densities.
Cllr Davies said that those at the meeting who raised concerns about lead- or asbestos-lined pipes in the areas “were correct”.
“There are loads of smoke screens but no one’s acknowledging what [Welsh Water] do,” one attendee said. No one from Welsh Water attended the meeting.
Concerns were also raised at the meeting that air quality in the area was being adversely affected by Welsh Water regularly using fossil-fuelled generators at various sites along the Teifi — with the machines supposedly only to be used in emergencies. One attendee told the meeting that when he confronted Welsh Water about the use of generators, he was told not to pry and had been paid on one occasion to stay in a local hotel after raising concerns about the fumes coming from the generators.
The River Teifi, one of the longest in Wales, flows for 76 miles and serves as the boundary between Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, with its source in the Cambrian mountains in the north of the county.
The meeting heard it is a vital resource for tourism and the local economy, and also offered a “mental health” respite during coronavirus restrictions.
* Note: There is an error in the online article desribing Welsh Water as the government agency responsible for water management - Welsh Water is the only Not for Profit Water compaany in the UK.
2. TivySide Advertiser: 'It is madness that desecration of The Teifi has been allowed'
Thursday night's meeting heard claims that agencies responsible for protecting the waterway had been 'asleep at the wheel'.
THE RIVER TEIFI IS DYING
That was the stark claim which emerged during a Ffynnone Resilience Group’s ‘’Save the Teifi’ meeting which drew an audience of 54 to Cilgerran Village Hall on Thursday night.
They included fishermen, farmers, professors of physical geography, lawyers, growers, artists and other members of the community.
Concerns for the river’s future were discussed amid fears that 'climate breakdown' was bringing increasing floods and droughts.
“Our infrastructure is not able to cope with the demands we put on the river now, and there is grave concern that the agencies responsible for protecting our environment are asleep at the wheel,” said a spokesperson.
“The Rivers Trust provides reports on the number of times sewage is dumped into our rivers.
“In 2021 sewage was dumped over 220 times below Cilgerran Castle and the story is the same along the Teifi and across the other rivers of Wales -complaints are made, but there is very little action.”
Back in January 2021 the Tivy-Side reported how lower parts of the river had failed to achieve 50 per cent of its targets for phosphate levels.
And the meeting heard claims that swimmers had reportedly fallen ill after bathing in the river.
Cllr John Davies felt Dwr Cymru and Natural Resources Wales did not consider the Teifi Valley a priority.
“The system is broken,” he said, adding that Dwr Cymru’s Asset Management Plan 7 paid ‘scant regard’ to the Teifi.
“We cannot pretend what we see is not real,” said the Ffynnone Resilience spokesperson.
“Quite apart from the death of the river, we need to think of the impact on our tourism and farming and so much more. Our economy will die along with the river.
“The Teifi has been the lifeblood of our area for centuries - it is madness that this desecration has been permitted to happen.
“This will be a long campaign and our next meeting is in Llechryd Village Hall on the last Thursday in September - please come along!
“We need more people to get involved; whether it is in writing to our Senedd members, joining citizen science schemes, organising river clean-ups, planting more trees, or just raising awareness - there is a role for everyone.