Urgent action over the latest Welsh Water fiasco has been called for, with the company told to ‘clean up’ its act.
With the ‘Surfers Against Sewage’ campaign group and local MPs and councillors highlighting more and more spills on beaches in areas such as Pembrokeshire, county councillor for Tenby’s north ward Cllr Michael Williams was prompted to write to the county council’s Pollution Control Officer last week, flagging up reports of a spill on the seaside town’s North Beach once again.
“It is completely unacceptable that in 2023 we should have to put up with this situation,” said Cllr Williams.
“We pay ever rising levels of water rates with a rapidly deteriorating quality of service.
“In recent days I have been contacted warning of a reduction of, or loss of water supply.
“Are we a third world nation? It certainly appears that Welsh Water operate as if we are and appear to get away with it,” he added.
Today (October 22) at their Autumn conference in Wrexham, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for tougher regulations on illegal sewage dumping.
The motion comes after it was revealed that Welsh Water/Dŵr Cymru have been illegally spilling untreated sewage in rivers across Wales for years.
Welsh Water ‘came clean’ last week after the water company was presented with analysis of its own data by mathematician and former University College London professor Peter Hammond from campaign group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution (WASP).
Prof Hammond requested data on 11 Welsh treatment plants and found that 10 had been releasing untreated sewage at times when they should have been treating it.
One of the worst performing plants was in Cardigan in west Wales, with the regulator Natural Resources Wales stating that it has been aware of the issues for eight years and has issued enforcement notices but no fines.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently been calling on the Welsh Government to take action in the fight against water pollution. And now that those warning signs have been ignored, the Welsh public have been left to face the consequences of inaction.
The party are now calling for an immediate review into the performance and operation of Dŵr Cymru. As well as the introduction of tougher regulations for those who see fit to harm our nation’s water ways.
Commenting, Jane Dodds MS said: “This is a shocking admission and the Welsh Government can no longer dodge this issue.
“The Welsh Labour Government have failed time and again to take action on sewage in our rivers, and have ignored mine and the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ calls for tougher action.
“We have the second highest bills in England and Wales. Company bosses have been awarded thousands in bonuses and at the same time have been illegally dumping sewage into our rivers.
“It is now time for a full review of Dŵr Cymru, a ban on bosses bonuses, and tough new laws to take action on sewage dumping in our rivers,” she added.
After last week’s revelations, a spokesperson for Dŵr Cymru stated: “We have a longstanding record of being open and transparent in relation to our environmental performance.
“We have applied this approach to compliance with our treatment works permits and have always raised any areas of non-compliance with our regulator, Natural Resources Wales as soon as they are identified.
“We have extensive monitoring arrangements, amongst the most extensive in the sector, which we use to monitor our sites.
“Each site presents its own and sometimes very complex challenges, with NRW reviewing the information we provide, agreeing appropriate timescales for resolving the issues, and taking enforcement action where appropriate,” they continued.
“We have over 5000 environmental permits as Wales has some of the largest numbers of treatment works, pumping stations and storm overflows in the UK.
“We are continually monitoring and when we find issues, we share this data with regulators, investigate and deliver improvements. We are investing around £1m a day in improving our services.
“We always aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, to limit any impact for both the environment and our customers.”
On the specific case of the Cardigan wastewater treatment works, they said: “Regarding Cardigan works specifically, we had already identified the issue there being linked to saltwater entering the works which impacts the treatment process.
“We reported this to NRW and agreed to undertake investment to improve the situation.
“Whilst this initial upgrade made some improvement, we are investing a further £20m at the site in 2025 to ensure full compliance with the discharge permit.
“Our discovery of issues at Cardigan have been fully disclosed to NRW from the earliest opportunity in line with our usual approach to dealing with these issues.”