Pollution Wales

‘We need public ownership of water’

Around the world, agriculture is the leading cause of water degradation. Data from the USAshows agricultural pollution is the top source of contamination in rivers and streams, thesecond biggest in wetlands, and the third main source in lakes. It is also a major contributorof contamination to estuaries and groundwater. Every time it rains, fertilisers, pesticides,animal waste from farms and livestock operation wash nutrients and pathogens, such asbacteria and viruses, into waterways. Nutrient pollution caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in water is the major threat towater quality worldwide and can cause algal bloom, a toxic super blue-green algae harmfulto people and wildlife, which eventually kills everything in the river, and we have all seenthat in Welsh rivers. There is a need to clean up our rivers, but we also need to fine thepolluters. The only way you are going to stop people polluting is when it starts costing morethan is saved by allowing pollution. This must be done for Welsh Water, but also for farmersand any other people polluting our rivers.Water used to be considered a public health necessity rather than a commodity and waterwas supplied with the goal of universal provision, household supply was not metered, andbills were linked to property value. Local government-maintained responsibility for watersupply and all wastewater services until 1974 when Welsh water was created. Welsh Waterwas privatised by a stock market flotation in 1989, which then became Dŵr Cymru which isa company for public benefit. We need public ownership of water. It used to be owned by the public; it was managed wellby local authorities. We need to bring it back into public ownership, rather than continuewith the way it is being run now.

Click link: 'We need public ownership of water' (nation.cymru)

Map shows which stretches of River Teifi saw most sewage pollution last year

The Teifi saw the sixth highest level of sewage pollution of any river in England and Wales last year – and a new map has revealedon which stretches spills were most common. Data released at the beginning of April 2023 from the country’s primary water supplier Dŵr Cymru and environmental regulator Natural Resources Wales (NRW)revealed a concerning record of discharges across seas, rivers and waterways in Ceredigion last year.

Click link: REVEALED: Map shows which stretches of River Teifi saw most sewage pollution last year | cambrian-news.co.uk

Pollution threatens Wales' coracle fishing tradition on the Teifi

Coracle fishing is at risk due to river pollution and climate change, fishers in mid and west Wales have claimed.

Floating on a coracle and using nets to feel the bottom of the river by hand to catch fish on the Teifi and the river Tywi is a centuries old tradition.

click link: Pollution threatens Wales' coracle fishing tradition - BBC News

Young woman left fighting for her life after swimming at Amroth Beach

The mother of a 22-year-old woman who became seriously ill after unknowingly swimming in sewage-filled sea is calling on others to be aware of the dangers. Caitlin Edwards contracted E. coli after swimming near the popular Amroth Beach in Pembrokeshire last summer. It led to her being diagnosed with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a rare condition that damages the kidneys.

Click link: Young woman left fighting for her life after swimming in sewage-filled Pembrokeshire sea | ITV News 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

Wales' two most prolific sewer outflows

Wales' two most heavily-used sewer outflows allow the untreated waste flushed down people's toilets to flow into the river through Bryngarw Country Park. This is a very extesive article on the problems and challenges for all rivers in Wales and the UK.

Click link:

Wales' two most prolific sewer outflows allow everything we flush down our toilets into the river through this beautiful country park - Wales Online

Footpath left flooded and covered in sewage overflow every time it rains

Residents claim sewage from toilets is covering a public footpath which is blocked by floodwater whenever it rains. People living near the affected path in Port Talbot say it is prone to sewage overflow every time it rains heavily.

Click link: Footpath left flooded and covered in sewage overflow every time it rains - Wales Online

Sewage has been pouring into these beautiful areas of Wales 24 hours a day

'Private water companies treat our countryside as a toilet, and their vandalism doesn't stop at some of our most sensitive conservation areas' - Greenpeace.

The group's investigative unit, Unearthed, has spent five months analysing data on water companies' sewage overflow releases and has used computer mapping software to plot the locations of the sewage overflows and note where sewage has poured into lakes, rivers and seas that are supposed to be protected areas of England and Wales, example are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or a Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).

Click link: Sewage has been pouring into these beautiful areas of Wales effectively 24 hours a day - Wales Online

and: How England and Wales’ protected habitats have been hit by sewage spills - Unearthed (greenpeace.org)

The firms caught breaking environmental rules in Wales

Building firms, two golf clubs, a council, and even a national park are named on the latest list of organisations caught breaking environmental rules in Wales. One firm dumped waste that caused almost £1m worth of damage while some breaches involved illegal spills in rivers. In the first eight months of this year the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) regulator took action over 78 environmental breaches. But only two of those cases resulted in fines, according to data from Freedom of Information requests byViolation Trackerand shared with WalesOnline.

The majority of the cases were over water quality or waste offences.

Click link: The firms caught breaking environmental rules in Wales - 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

and: Water pollution: 'We’ve lost it, the River Wye looks so ill' - BBC News

and: River Wye health status downgraded by Natural England after wildlife review | Rivers | The Guardian

and: Why are salmon dying in Herefordshire's river Wye? | Hereford Times

and: River Wye taskforce would act to clean up waterway, letter says - BBC News

and: Green tech company looking to help clean up River Wye catchment - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

and: ‘Citizen scientists make a vital difference’: the locals who proved the River Wye was polluted | Pollution | The Guardian

and: River Wye: Pollution not caused by farming, says NFU - BBC News

and: River Wye: Judicial review granted over agricultural pollution

Wye salmon faces extinction in 6 years - campaigners

The protected Atlantic salmon could be extinct within six years due to pollution levels in the River Wye, campaigners say. The Wye Salmon Association say they have recorded their lowest catch numbers since their records began in 1956. The angling group is calling for radical scientific action to save the species. They want gene banking, captive breeding and cryogenic preservation science to be used to ensure the fish does not become extinct.

Click link: Wye salmon faces extinction in 6 years - campaigners - 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

Plus see this from 14 July 2023:  Pollution alerts in Gwynedd and Ceredigion ahead of summer holidays | cambrian-news.co.uk

Storm Ciarán-Untreated sewage spilled off 11 Pembrokeshire beaches

2-Nov-2023: Untreated storm sewage has been spilled into the sea around 11 Pembrokeshire beaches in the last 48 hours as Storm Ciarán heads into the county. There is no data available for Poppit Beach which is not monitored out of season.

Click link: Storm Ciarán-Untreated sewage spilled off 11 Pembrokeshire beaches | Western Telegraph

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 admits illegally spilling sewage for years

Welsh Water has admitted illegally spilling untreated sewage at dozens of treatment plants for years. The admission came after the BBC presented the water company with analysis of its own data. One of their worst performing plants is in Cardigan in west Wales. The company has been spilling untreated sewage there into an environmentally protected area near a rare dolphin habitat for at least a decade.

Click Link: Welsh Water admits illegally spilling sewage for years - BBC News

See also: Welsh Water admits illegally spilling sewage near protected dolphin habitat for years - Wales Online

See also: New Report Shows More Wastewater Failure by Welsh Water | Afonydd Cymru

and: Welsh Water admits persistent raw sewage spills into Teifi | Tivyside Advertiser

Professor Peter Hammond’s Report, 17 Oct 23:  FINAL_SUMMARY_Welsh_Water_Overview_WwTWs_Oct_17th_2023.pdf (afonyddcymru.org)

and: Teifi Catchment analysis 11th September 2023

See the: TV - Agenda for Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday, 9 November 2023, 09.30 (senedd.wales)

and/or: Senedd.tv - Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee - 09/11/2023


Dŵr Cymru bosses to face Westminster grilling following sewage dumping

MPs are set to grill Dŵr Cymru bosses at Westminster next week, following the company’s admission last month that it had been illegally dumping sewage for years. Welsh Water confirmed that between 40 and 50 of its wastewater treatment plants are currently operating in breach of their permits after being shown data by an environmental campaigner. Analysis by Professor Peter Hammond, from campaign group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, showed the worst offender is the Cardigan plant in west Wales, which spilled untreated sewage on 1,146 days from the start of 2018 to the end of May 2023.

Click link: Dŵr Cymru bosses to face Westminster grilling following sewage dumping admission (nation.cymru)

See the grilling: Parliamentlive.tv - Welsh Affairs Committee

Prosecuting water companies does not improve environment, says NRW boss

Prosecuting water companies does not improve the environment, the CEO of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has told MPs.

NRW has not made any prosecutions anywhere in Wales over illegal sewage dumping for the last five years, according to a recent BBC report, despite data showing that Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) has been doing so for years.

Click link: Prosecuting water companies does not improve environment, says NRW boss (nation.cymru)

WW/DC response to these revelations:

Background to Cardigan Wastewater Treatment Works

Cardigan Wastewater Treatment works was built in 2004 and commissioned over the course of four years. The site treats a population of 5,707. This covers the Cardigan area, Gwbert, Penparc and St Dogmaels.

The works were built using a treatment process which uses membranes with extremely small holes to filter and treat sewage. This process was chosen for several characteristics; not only was it an innovative new technology at the time, but the small footprint meant it could be constructed within the existing boundary of the treatment works. The microscopic holes in the membranes also filter out bacteria, so the membrane technology was used at Cardigan to disinfect the treated water, given the proximity of the designated bathing water at Poppit Sands. It’s worth noting that not all treatment works disinfection processes use membranes (as ultraviolet light is more commonly used).

It was subsequently found that the membrane process is negatively affected by changes in salinity (the amount of salt present in the incoming wastewater). Sewage treatment is based on mainly two processes; one of which is biological and use organisms to process to sewage. When these organisms are exposed to saltwater, they excrete an enzyme to protect themselves. That enzyme coats the membranes, essentially blocking the filter holes, reducing the volume of flow that can pass through the membrane. This reaction and impact were not known at the time of installation.

What’s the problem in Cardigan?

Parts of the sewer network in Cardigan town and the adjacent coastal communities, which are served by the treatment works, are susceptible to flow from the tidal section the Teifi river finding its way into the network. The flow that reaches the treatment works can have variable saltwater content and it is the change in salinity that impacts the membranes. Different tide heights cause differing concentrations of saltwater mixing with the incoming wastewater, impacting flows passing through the process.

Flows which cannot pass through the full process do still receive partial treatment. The flow is screened twice, as small as 1mm, and then is settled in storm tanks, to remove solids before rejoining the treated effluent discharged into the river.

We have a number of membrane treatment plants in our operating area, so we embarked on a series of improvements to all of these, enhancing the cleaning, improving the screening and changing and replacing membranes more frequently. At Cardigan, we have also spent considerable time and investment re-lining and replacing parts of the sewer network, installing non-return valves to try and keep the saltwater out of the sewer network.

Next steps

Despite these attempts to improve how the sites operates, it has not been successful and so we need to replace the process type on site which does not use membranes. As one of the benefits of using membrane technology is the small footprint, it is clear that  building a new, larger works becomes a complex operation but it should also be noted that we will need to continue operating the existing works whilst construction is ongoing. This is a significant undertaking at a cost of £20 million and therefore requires planning permissions and expansion of the site.


Aligned with enforcement notices first issued in 2020, Welsh Water agreed with the environmental regulator, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), that we needed to find a process that could operate successfully with varying levels of saltwater present in incoming flows. Welsh Water agreed to trial two different processes over a 12 month period to see which process could operate successfully in these conditions. This trial has been completed and one of the processes has been found to operate successfully. The detailed design is under way and the funds to carry this wholescale rebuild are included in our next five year investment plan (2025-2030). This has been communicated  externally.


In recent years, Welsh Water have looked to understand what impact Cardigan works has on water quality and particularly the bathing water quality at Poppit Sands. The regulatory responsibility for river and marine water quality sampling is with NRW. We are not aware of any data that shows significant impact from the treatment works discharges.

We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and across our asset base and we work with NRW to agree which sites to prioritise. Given that discharges from Cardigan are not raw sewage as some have claimed and that we are not detecting any significant environmental impact from the site, we will continue to work with our regulators to target those assets  causing the most environmental harm first. The complexity of the final solution at Cardigan resulting in us having to completely rebuild the plant means that we will not be starting work on site before 2025. However, we are looking for ways to accelerate the project as quickly as possible as well as identifying further interim mitigation measures and will keep customers and stakeholders informed. 

See also: Statement: Cardigan wastewater treatment works | Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (dwrcymru.com)

and: Welsh Water: Illegal sewage spills inevitable, says Dŵr Cymru - BBC News

Welsh Water chief got £20k pay rise as firm illegally spilled raw sewage into Teifi

The boss of Welsh Water was given a £20,000 pay increase during the period the company was illegally dumping raw sewage into a protected dolphin habitat. Welsh Water is under investigation after it admitted to illegally spilling raw sewage into the River Teifi, which flows into Cardigan Bay, a conservation area and home to Europe’s largest population of bottlenose dolphins. The company, which serves 3 million customers, said 40 to 50 of its wastewater treatment plants were currently operating illegally, after data was uncovered by environmental campaigners of breaches occurring between 2018 and 2023.

click link: Welsh Water chief got £20k pay rise as firm illegally spilled raw sewage into rare dolphin habitat (telegraph.co.uk)

Welsh Water throws £20m lifeline to Cardigan treatment plant

Cardigan’s highly controversial Wastewater Treatment Works is to be fully replaced as part of a £20m investment programme carried out by Welsh Water. The announcement was made on Thursday (October 12), with assurances from the water company that the long-overdue project will ‘improve river water quality in the Teifi and help protect the wider environment’. “We’ve been working hard in recent years to tackle these challenges at Cardigan wastewater treatment works which has involved undertaking lengthy and complex investigations,” said Welsh Water’s Managing Director of Wastewater Services, Steve Wilson.

Click link: Welsh Water throws £20m lifeline to Cardigan treatment plant | Tivyside Advertiser

See also: Welsh Water plans to rebuild Cardigan wastewater plant and invest £42 m in wastewater assets (smartwatermagazine.com)

'Raw sewage' enters Teifi via Cardigan town centre outflow

For centuries, Cardigan was ranked as one of the UK’s main trading routes thanks to the vibrant River Teifi that flowed through her heart.

Today, some claim the river has become a fetid watercourse as raw sewage is being pumped into her on a regular basis from an outlet in the town centre. Fresh calls are being made for Welsh Water to put their money where their mouths are and make long-overdue investments into restoring the Teifi to her former glory. "The River Teifi should be our town’s jewel,” commented local resident, businesswoman and town councillor Philippa Noble.

Click link: 'Raw sewage' enters Teifi via Cardigan town centre outflow | Western Telegraph

Welsh Water admits over 300 spills from Cardigan water plant

Dwr Cymru has found itself in hot water yet again after its wastewater treatment works in Cardigan was found to have spilled raw sewage into the river on no fewer than 304 days throughout 2022.

Click link: Welsh Water admits over 300 spills from Cardigan water plant | Tivyside Advertiser

See also:Welsh Water warned 200 times over breaches but fined just twice - Wales Online

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)

NRW Improving regulations of storm overflows: 27-Oct-2023

In July 2022 the Wales Better River Quality Taskforce was established. Collaboratively it aims to reduce the impacts of storm overflows on our rivers, to improve regulation and to educate communities on sewer misuse. Through our work with the Taskforce we have been reviewing and making changes to our regulation of storm overflows in Wales. This week we have issued the water companies in Wales, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and Hafren Dyfrdwy, with new, tightened guidance about the conditions in which it is acceptable for a storm overflow to spill.

Click link: Natural Resources Wales / Improving our regulation of storm overflows

Scientists call for action to save our rivers

Regional scientists and environmentalists have laid out the actions that need to be taken to rapidly improve the health of rivers in Ceredigion and Gwynedd – before it’s too late. The plight of polluted waterways like the Teifi, the Dyfi, the Ystwyth and the Mawddach have been thrust back into the spotlight again in the last few months.

click link: How to improve the health of Teifi, Dyfi, Ystwyth and Mawddach rivers | cambrian-news.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

River Taf: ‘dead’ Pembrokshire river the centre of Wales’s intensive dairy industry

The Taf, which flows from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire through Carmarthenshire to Carmarthen Bay, was once a rich salmon and trout river, teeming with birdlife. “This was a lovely, beautiful little catchment 40 years ago, not the bright lights of the Teifi or Towy or the Usk or the Wye. Just tucked away there. You’d think, ‘Oh, that’ll just be left alone.’ Well, it’s the complete opposite. It’s been utterly trashed,” says Kim Waters, co-founder of the Welsh Rivers Union campaign group. “It’s a disaster, the river is dead basically.” While the Taf has faced sewage problems, the main cause of the pollution is believed to be from agriculture. The catchment is home to more than 40 dairy cows per square kilometre of grassland, with some areas above 80.

click link: River Taf: The ‘dead’ Pembrokshire river at the centre of Wales’s intensive dairy industry (msn.com)

“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

Cleddau River faces 'ecological extinction', say campaigners

Otters could be seen scampering along the banks, while its waters and riverbeds were stocked with bass, shrimp, clams and salmon. Today the riveris a putrid reflection ofits former status. In the words of Simon Walters, the River Cleddau is dead. “The horse has boulted which meansit’s now too late,” he said. “The Cleddau River has turned into the Cleddau Sewer. It’s become toxic and the wildlife that we once hadas abarometer isshowing us the damage of what's been happening for far foo long. The river is dead.”

click link: Cleddau River faces 'ecological extinction', say campaigners | Western Telegraph

NRW investigations following River Cleddau pollution concerns

Reports thatserious pollution outfallsare causing widespread ecological damage along stretches of the Western Cleddau have prompted major investigations by Natural Resources Wales (NRW). The announcement was made this week by NRW operations manager, Caroline Drayton.

“We're aware of multiple concerns concerning pollution incidents and following reports to our incident line, officers have attended the site to investigate,” she commented. “Our investigations are ongoing and we are checking with nearby permit holders to determine whether they are operating within their permit conditions.”

click link: NRW investigations following River Cleddau pollution concerns | Western Telegraph

Britain's polluted rivers have become 'a dumping ground for industry'

The babbling waters of the Cleddau river were once a haven for salmon and trout, where fishermen and kayakers and swimmers could find peace and beauty. But when CGTN visited the waterway after being alerted by local people, we found an environmental tragedy. Stretches of the river were covered with an oily scum, a rubbery foam could be found washed up on the banks and pipes spurted out untreated sewage.

Click link: Britain's polluted rivers have become 'a dumping ground for industry' - CGTN

Concern over plans to build slurry lagoon near 'gem' of Ceredigion coast

Concerns have been raised at plans to site a bio-fertiliser lagoon at the gateway to “gem in the cornerstone of Ceredigion tourism” Mwnt.

Objector Helen Gillam of nearby Crug Farm, Ferwig has asked planners to undertake a site visit prior to any decision, to understand the geology and “vulnerability of the residents whose only water supply relies on the springs and bore holes arising from ground water”.

“Runoff from the development into the adjoining riparian habitat remains a concern of National Trust, how this will be managed in normal and periods of extreme rainfall will impact on the quality of visitor experience to Mwnt.”

click link: Concern over plans to build slurry lagoon near 'gem' of Ceredigion coast | cambrian-news.co.uk