Water Industry News

Welsh Water Fined £180k For Pollution Incident

Utility company Welsh Water has been fined £180,000 after up to 675,000 litres of untreated sewage was discharged into Wrexham’s River Clywedog in 2018.


According to the BBC, storm tanks overflowed while a chamber where a colony of snails had formed was being cleaned out, with Natural Resource Wales saying that 9km of river was affected, with over 3,000 fish killed as a result.


A Llandudno court heard that a large colony of snails had built up at the Five Fords wastewater treatment works and the decision taken to clean out a chamber, but a mistake was made and the storm tanks overflowed during the operation.


District judge Gwyn Jones accepted that for companies like Welsh Water, certain issues will inevitably arise, but imposed a £180,000 fine and ordered the supplier to pay £25,800 in costs.


Welsh Water issued a statement, saying that it does take its responsibility for protecting the environment very seriously, but on this occasion not enough was done.


The statement continued: “The incident at our Five Fords wastewater treatment works occurred while we were carrying out emergency maintenance work, which accidentally led to partially treated wastewater overflowing from one of our storage tanks for about one hour into the River Clywedog.


“Unfortunately, we were unaware this had occurred while undertaking the work. However, as soon as we realised we took immediate steps to try and minimise its impact.”


Back in April, Welsh Water put out a previous statement about the use of combined storm overflows (CSOs), saying that the company is very aware of what impact its operations can have on the local environment.


These overflows have an essential role to play in preventing sewage from backing up into properties during periods of heavy rain. Since 2015, the water supplier has invested £8.1 million in improving the monitoring of these storm overflows, with spill monitors now in place on 96.7 per cent of all CSOs.


These monitors record both the number and duration of spills, with the data then published on the company’s website, which allows it to develop investment cases so that further improvements can be made. It also provides interested organisations, such as Surfers Against Sewage, with real-time spill information for key bathing waters.


Welsh Water’s profits don’t go to shareholders but are reinvested back into the company so that services can be improved. In the last 20 years, more than £1 billion has been invested across the entire wastewater network. And between now and 2025, more than £765 million is set to be invested on further improvements to the wastewater system.


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