Pollution Wales

Welsh rivers pumped with sewage named among UK's most polluted

Six of the worst polluted rivers in the UK are in Wales. In just one year England and Wales’ waterways had sewagepumped into them for at least 3.4m hours, according to recent figures. Data from 2021 has revealed the horrifying extent to which rivers, canals, the sea, and other bodies have been polluted by water companies.

click link: Welsh rivers pumped with sewage named among UK's most polluted - Wales Online

Over 105,000 incidents of untreated sewage being dumped into Welsh rivers

A report by the Senedd’s Climate Change Committee is calling on the Welsh Government to take urgent action to tackle sewage discharges made by water companies into Welsh rivers. Published 14/03/2022

click link: Over 105,000 incidents of untreated sewage being dumped into Welsh rivers (senedd.wales)

Preseli Pembrokeshire polluted by sewage 6,752 times in 2021 - lasting 79,468 hours

Top of the Poops website shows Pembrokeshire the worst affected in Wales with 88 Sites polluted by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water

click link: Top of the Poops | Constituency | Preseli Pembrokeshire (top-of-the-poops.org)

Welsh Water: Sewage dumped in waterways for 600,000 hours - 2 Apr 2023

Water company Welsh Water released sewage into rivers, lakes and the sea around Wales for almost 600,000 hours last year, data shows.

This accounts for more than 25% of all hours of discharges into waterways across Wales and England.

Latest figures also show more than 83,000 spills in 2022 - 77,000 of which were "significant".

click link: Welsh Water: Sewage dumped in waterways for 600,000 hours - BBC News

Welsh river valley which endured 7,800 hours of dumping tops list of worst offenders

A pipe that spewed sewage into a Welsh river valley for more than 7,800 hours has topped a list of the worst offenders for waste discharge last year.

The pipe, owned by Welsh Water, dumped sewage for the equivalent of 325 days at the River Ogmore in Pontyrhyl, south Wales.

Second in the list was another Welsh Water pipe located just three miles away, again impacting the scenic Welsh river, while sewage was dumped for more than 6,896 hours - equivalent to 291 days - into the River Ellen from a wastewater treatment works in Cumbria.

click link: Ten longest sewage discharges of 2022 revealed: Welsh river valley endured 7,800 hours of dumping | Daily Mail Online

Terrifying amount of sewage poured into Welsh rivers last year

Wales' not for profit water company released sewage into rivers, lakes and seas for nearly 600,000 hours last year according to new data released for 2022. That equates to untreated sewage discharging into Welsh waterways non-stop for 68 years.

click link: The terrifying amount of sewage poured into rivers, lakes and seas around Wales last year - Wales Online

River pollution: Shake-up call for investigations in Wales

Thousands of small-scale spills are not even being looked into, adding up to a "massive issue".

click link: River pollution: Shake-up call for investigations in Wales - BBC News

Similarly - The Environment Agency (EA) has been accused of allowing water firms to pollute England's rivers.

click link: Water firms allowed to 'get away with polluting rivers' - BBC News

New commission aims to restore river Wye and Lugg water quality

Ways to restore the water quality of rivers running though Herefordshire are to be looked at. A commission enabling the county council to work with other local authorities and agencies to improve the rivers Wye and Lugg has been set up. Both rivers are struggling with high levels of nutrients, mainly phosphates, which affect water quality and eco-balance, the council has said. It aims to protect the wildlife habitats. Work on the water quality restoration is expected to be complete by March 2023.

click link: New commission aims to restore river Wye and Lugg water quality - BBC News

also: River Wye: Why the impending ‘death’ of one of the UK’s longest and best loved rivers should worry us all (inews.co.uk)

and: Local farmers lead clean up of phosphate polluted river - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

and: New 'roadmap' from poultry processor to clean up River Wye - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

and: Chicken supplier Avara frustrated by pollution response - BBC News

and: River Wye pollution prompts High Court review - BBC News

and: River Wye users 'could make legal claim against poultry farms' | Hereford Times

and:Diggers used to illegally rip trees from banks of River Lugg - BBC News

All 22 Wales Blue Flag Award beaches can keep their status next year

Wales has once again published stellar results for its bathing water quality standards, with 99% compliance and 85 of the 106 water bodies assessed achieving the top grade; including Poppit Sands.

click link: All 22 Wales Blue Flag Award beaches can keep their status next year (nation.cymru)

However this article from Kent has some salutary information:

Beach rated 'excellent' despite being pumped with sewage for 500 hours - Kent Live

Welsh Water amongst companies "letting down" customers and the environment

BBC reported on 12-Dec-2022 that Several water companies in England and Wales are "letting down their customers and the environment" the industry regulator said on Thursday. In its annual review Ofwat said that despite some improvements it remains deeply concerned.

This year water companies have come under increasing scrutiny followingnumerous pollution incidents from untreated sewagein rivers.

click link: Water companies "letting down" customers and the environment - BBC News

and: Ofwat warns some water firms invest less than half of their allowances to improve water network (smartwatermagazine.com)

also: Public patience is wearing thin. Ofwat must wield the big stick | Nils Pratley | The Guardian

Water company performance report 2021-22:  Worst performing water and wastewater companies called out in latest Ofwat assessments - Ofwat

Another link about Ofwatch: Watchdog to block shareholder payouts if UK water companies miss targets | Water | The Guardian

NRW Core Management Plans For Rivers Not Fit For Purpose

Afonydd Cymru have written (on 30th November, 2022) to Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales about the latter’s updated Core Management Plans for Welsh SAC rivers. Having reviewed the Core Managment Plans for all the SAC rivers, the main observation is that there has been no measurable improvement in terms of status for any of the SAC river features, with the exception of otters. This reflects poorly on the ability of Natural Resources Wales to drive improvement in the natural environment.

click link:  NRW Core Management Plans For Rivers Not Fit For Purpose | Afonydd Cymru

'Authorities leave Teifi exposed to repeat major pollution'

CEREDIGION County Council and Natural Resources Wales have left the River Teifi vulnerable to further cases of pollution in the six years following a major incident on the waterway.

click link: 'Authorities leave Teifi exposed to repeat major pollution' | Tivyside Advertiser

Anaerobic digestion: Call for better regulation in Wales

Calls have been made for better regulation over the use of anaerobic digesters in Wales following a series of pollution incidents.

Incidents have seen the machines, which break down animal and food waste to produce gas for energy, fail and leak a slurry-like substance into rivers. Afonydd Cymru, the Rivers Trust of Wales, wants tougher penalties introduced. The Welsh Government said it would review the machines' impact on farms. In one incident in the Tregaron area of Ceredigion, an anaerobic digester leaked into the River Teifi killing over 1,000 fish.

This link also explains what Anaerobic digestion is and how it works.

click link: Anaerobic digestion: Call for better regulation in Wales - BBC News

Welsh Water publishes long term plans to help protect Teifi

Under its plans, the company has identified where either investment or modifications are required at its sites based along the rivers which will reduce or limit the amount of phosphorus that enters the rivers from its wastewater treatment process.

click link: Welsh Water publishes long term plans to help protect Special Area of Conservation Rivers | Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

See also: Understanding the sources of phosphorus in our rivers

Criticism of Welsh Water boss' £232,000 bonus in year of sewage dumps, leaks and hosepipe bans

Welsh Water's chief executive Peter Perry had a total pay package of over £600,000 at a time Welsh Water's bills became the second highest in England and Wales. The eye-watering six figure salary of the head of Welsh Water has been criticised after a year in which water bills rose to become among the highest in the UK, raw sewage was dumped in rivers and seas and large areas of Wales were subject to hosepipe bans.

Peter Perry, the chief executive of Welsh Water (DCWW), earned £332,000 in 2022 and that was before a generous pension contribution and bonus payments were added on. On top of his basic salary, he also earned a total of £232,000 in short and long term bonus despite the fact the not-for-profit company was heavily criticised over the amount of sewage discharged into rivers and the seas around onto Welsh Blue Flag beaches.

Last year, the company admitted its performance on sewage discharges wasn't "where we want to be" after a Senedd committee said the public was "rightly outraged by what it is witnessing".

click link: Criticism of Welsh Water boss' £232,000 bonus in year of sewage dumps, leaks and hosepipe bans - Wales Online

MPs told Natural Resources Wales is not fit for purpose

Welsh MPs have been told that Natural Resources Wales is not fit for purpose and that Llandudno saw the largest amount of sewage dumps into the sea by Dŵr Cymru than anywhere else in Wales during 2022.

Committee Chair Stephen Crabb MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire kicked off the session on water quality by asking how bad is the situation in Wales?

Gail Davies-Walsh of Afonydd Cymru said: “My summary at the minute is that Welsh rivers are in a very poor state in terms of water quality.

“Five of our nine Special Areas of Conservation designated rivers are failing for phosphorous and excessive nutrients.

“32% of all rivers in Wales fail for phosphorous and only 40% meet their good ecological status. Sewer overflows play a very important part of the impact to our river quality. Over the last two years the data for Wales has shown that currently around 100,000 spills per annum goes into our rivers.” Giving evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons today (8 January 2023) were Gail Davies-Walsh, Chief Executive, Afonydd Cymru; Jon Khoo, Chair of Surfers against Sewage and Angela Jones who has led a 30 year campaign to save the River Wye from polluters.

click link:  MPs told Natural Resources Wales is not fit for purpose (nation.cymru)

The recorded live session of this Welsh Affairs Committee can be seen on video via the link below:

MPs hold one-off session to examine sewage discharges in Wales - Committees - UK Parliament

Horror as 10 tonnes of waste cleared from tiny stretch of River Teifi

More than 10 tonnes of waste have been cleaned up from a three-kilometre stretch of the polluted River Teifi.

Llandysul villagers have expressed their horror after images on social media showedboat loads of debris and agricultural refuse being hauled from the riverbed by tens ofvolunteers over the last three weekends. 

Teams numbering between 20 and 50 people, led by the village’s Paddlers Canoe Centre and Club, took to the water or scoured the riverbanks.

click link: Horror as 10 tonnes of waste cleared from tiny stretch of River Teifi | cambrian-news.co.uk

New Strategy Agreed on Reducing River Pollution 

On Wednesday 8th March, 2023, the second Phosphorus Pollution Summit was held in Cardiff, hosted by First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS.

Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change an dLesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Rural Affairs were also in attendance, as were representatives from Natural Resources Wales, local authorities, the agricultural sector, house building and the environment. Representing the rivers and river trusts of Wales was Gail Davies-Walsh, CEO of Afonydd Cymru.

First Ministers summary was: ‘we need to do more and we need to do it quicker’. We also welcome his commitment to lead the governance structure being developed. What we absolutely need to see is more action.

click link: Second Phosphorus Summit: Our Summary | Afonydd Cymru

see also: New strategy agreed on reducing river pollution (nation.cymru)

One man’s quest to turn sewage into eco-gold

Phosphorus in fertilizer is crucial to feeding the world but too much of the element in the environment is disastrous.

A revolution in capturing phosphorus from wastewater is underway.

Phosphorus recovery will improve water quality and create a more sustainable food system.

click link: The green genius of capturing phosphorus from sewage - Big Think

Scientists warn of ‘phosphogeddon’ as critical fertiliser shortages loom

Our planet faces “phosphogeddon”, scientists have warned. They fear our misuse of phosphorus could lead todeadly shortagesof fertilisers that would disrupt global food production. At the same time, phosphate fertiliser washed from fields – together with sewage inputs into rivers, lakes and seas – is giving rise to widespreadalgal bloomsand creating aquatic dead zones that threaten fish stocks.

click link: Scientists warn of ‘phosphogeddon’ as critical fertiliser shortages loom | Pollution | The Guardian

Extinction Rebellion set up 'crime scene' on River Taff where sewage is dumped

The group set up a 'crime scene' on the banks of the river next to the Taff Trail in Hailey Park, Llandaff North, on Sunday afternoon against the backdrop of sewage waste that includes sanitary products and wet wipes hanging from tree branches to highlight the Taff's current state, and as part of the UK national week of action called "Dirty Water".

click link: Extinction Rebellion set up 'crime scene' next to section of River Taff where sewage is dumped - Wales Online

Plan to take Welsh water for London stirs painful memories

Thames Water wants to abstract up to 155m litres of water a day from Wales to boost supplies for the most populous part of England in the coming years. It isworking withUnited Utilities, which has a licence to abstract water from Lake Vyrnwy, a reservoir in Powys, and with Severn Trent. But as the graffiti across north Wales in memory of Capel Celyn show, water continues to be an emotive subject in the country.

click link: ‘Very sensitive subject’: plan to take Welsh water for London stirs painful memories | Wales | The Guardian

Public warned to avoid Newport Beach after raw sewage spill - 19 Mar 23

The charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)issued the alert as sewage leaks worsen amid heavy rainfall in recent days. The sewage has leaked from major works and pipelines, seeing waste discharged into the sea. An alerts has been issued for Newport Beach where sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours. The beach is serviced by a relatively new sewage treatment works that usually discharges biologically treated sewage effluent via the long sea outfall, some 700m from the coast into Newport Bay.

click link: Public warned to avoid Newport Beach after raw sewage spill | Western Telegraph

Welsh Water Release 2022 spill data & New Manifesto - 31 Mar 2023

Welsh Water has let us know that this morning, they are publishing their Event Duration Monitors data for 2022.

This is the message they have sent us today: 

"Event Duration Monitors (EDM) record the number of times and duration of time out storm overflows have operated.  With monitors now on over 99.5% of our overflows, we are able to provide one of the most comprehensive reports on how our storm overflows perform. We report this information to our environmental regulators and also provide real time spill information for key bathing waters to interested bodies, including Surfers Against Sewage and Rivers Trust.

Our data for 2022 shows that we saw:

        • 12% reduction in the average number of storm releases per storm overflow compared 2021, from 43.5 to 38.3 
        • 25% reduction in total spill duration in 2022, from 807512 hrs to 602987.5 hrs

While we are pleased to see the reduction, which in part is due to the investment work we are undertaking to reduce spills, the reduction has also been influenced by the weather we saw last year.  The annual rainfall for the year was 10% below the long term average, we saw the driest January-August period since 1976 and drought conditions were declared across parts of Wales and England.

The total removal of combined storm overflows from our system is unaffordable and would take decades and therefore is not an option but what is in our control is the ability to target investment to CSOs which have the biggest environmental impact.  That is why we are investing significantly to improve CSOs with £25m being invested between 2020-2025 and a further £420m planned from 2025 to 2030. 

Our EDM data for 2022 can be viewed on our interactive map which is available on our website.  Please click here

We wanted to let you know also that we are currently developing a new map which will provide information of a storm overflow operating within an hour.  We aim to have this live within the next year.

Our investment to date in our wastewater system has delivered real improvements and helped ensure Wales has over a third of the UKs Blue Flag beaches while only having 15% of the coastline and that 40% of our rivers and waterbodies meet good ecological status compared to 16% in England.  However, we recognise that with environmental legislation tightening and customer expectations changing, more needs to be done to protect bathing and river water quality.  Equally as important as tackling CSO’s is tackling phosphorous pollution and we are delivering a comprehensive programme of upgrades to our wastewater treatment works that will remove 90% of our phosphorous discharges by 2030. We have just published our Manifesto for Rivers in Wales which outlines how we will be investing in our wastewater network, particularly around rivers in Special Areas of Conservation.

Our Manifesto can be viewed on our website here.

Significant improvement to river and sea water quality requires a long term approach where all groups who impact on the rivers and seas must play their part and make their contribution.  We hope you will see that our Manifesto shows how we are committed to making ours. "

see also: Welsh Water 2022 Sewage Discharge Data Published | Afonydd Cymru

Water companies cover-up sewage discharge  by failing to fix faulty monitors

More than one in six monitors installed by water companies were found to be faulty last year and the problem has only worsened.

Water companies have been accused of covering up the full scale of sewage discharges by failing to fix faulty equipment.

Hundreds of sewage discharge monitors along England’s coastlines and rivers were reported as broken or faulty last year, new analysis shows.

In Wales between 12 and 18% of monitors were faulty or not functioning.

Click link: Water companies accused of sewage discharge cover-up by failing to fix faulty monitors (telegraph.co.uk)

‘Not enough action is being taken to prevent damage to our rivers’,

says Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Derek Walker.

“The increase in some intensive farming practices is one of many serious and direct threats to our rivers in Wales, which are deteriorating at an alarming rate; and a growing number of concerns have been raised with us from members of the public,” says Derek Walker, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.

click link: ‘Not enough action is being taken to prevent damage to our rivers’, says Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Derek Walker. – The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

“No time to lose” to replace Wales’ sewerage system to prevent future discharges

The Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Stephen Crabb MP, has called for urgent action from regulators and water companies to replace Wales’ aging combined sewerage system to prevent further damaging sewage discharges into rivers and coastal waters. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

In a letter to the Minister for Climate Change at the Welsh Government, Mr Crabb highlighted evidence gathered by the Committee during two evidence sessions with campaigners, water companies, and Ofwat. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Key issues raised include the lack of accurate monitoring of discharge volumes and outflow frequency, the occurrence of unpermitted sewage discharges, and the low number of prosecutions in Wales to enforce better water quality. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Committee is concerned about the absence of a clear and timely plan to improve the sewage infrastructure and reduce the quantity of sewage being discharged into the environment. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

click link: "No time to lose" to replace Wales’ sewerage system to prevent future discharges - Wrexham.com