WORK to prevent the discharge of untreated sewage into the River Tawe will not be completed until 2030, according to a legal body representing fishermen in the area.
Fish Legal – which represents the Mond Angling Society and the Pontardawe and Swansea Angling Society – said National Resources Wales has confirmed the work “is unlikely to be completed until 2030”.
Members of Fish Legal have reportedly witnessed an increase in discharges into the river since Trebanos sewage treatment works since 2014 and published data showing there were 3,676 hours of untreated sewage discharged 270 times in 2020, 3,321 hours on 182 times in 2021 and the most recent discharge recorded by angling clubs was on May 29 this year.
Fish Legal investigated whether the discharges comply with the water company’s environmental permits, which limit when spills can occur.
Fish Legal said that in May 2020 the site was named “number one” in Welsh Water’s list of the 50 most problematic sites in Wales and that it had pledged to address the 30 worst sites of here 2025, but the following year changed the position on Trébanos.
They said the change in position was backed by Natural Resources Wales, saying they had said they were unable to find ‘sufficient environmental impact’ to warrant action before the next period of improved conditions. fixed assets between 2025 and 2030.
A spokesperson for Pontardawe and Swansea Angling Society said: ‘We feel disappointed with this reversal from Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) as it is not the first time that promises regarding the storm outfall of the processing plant are made and denied.
“In 1997, during the period before the construction of the outfall, the company was informed by DCWW that there was only a remote probability that the proposed outfall would discharge raw sewage at a low rate and if a situation arises resulting in a risk to the health of its members, they would be required to resolve the problem and take appropriate action.
“Since March 2014, we have filed numerous complaints about the health risk to members and the general public from spills that occurred days after heavy rains passed and the river returned to normal levels.
“The situation is getting worse, anglers can’t fish in a fishery we own because the storm outfall is releasing filtered but otherwise raw sewage into our fishery for days after most incidents of rain .
“DCWW’s rollback, along with Natural Resources Wales’ position that we have to ‘just live with it’ until 2030, is a disgrace. Accordingly, we have serious concerns about the future intentions of DCWW and NRW.”
Fish Legal also claims an internal email to Natural Resources Wales – seen via a freedom of information request – said they were considering serving statutory notice on Welsh Water to ‘demonstrate that it was not liabilities but that clubs would simply have to live with the adjusted timelines for the planned improvements.
Geoff Hardy, a lawyer for Fish Legal, said: ‘Rarely have I come across such blatant backtracking on commitments. The current position is that even if Welsh Water is given permission to start work on day one of the next investment round, it will take at least 24-26 months and could take until 2030.
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“This means that our members could have endured the pollution of this broken system for 16 years. This must be unacceptable by anyone’s standards.
“Why is one of the worst sewage works in Wales allowed to continue discharging untreated sewage into the River Tawe because the environmental impact is not considered serious enough to address it sooner? How bad does this have to get?”
Calls are being made for an investigation into the regulation of combined sewer overflows in Wales after the Environmental Protection Office announced on June 28 that it would investigate the roles of Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Secretary of State for Defra on the same issue in England. .
The Mold Angling Club said: “We must follow England’s lead and ask the Environmental Shield of Wales’ Interim Assessor to review the regulations for combined sewer outlets, as it is clear that NRW is not up to the task.”
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A spokesperson for Welsh Water said: ‘Our treatment works at Trebanos serve a large catchment area and see a significant amount of seepage from surface water and other sources reaching it during periods of heavy rain. . We are underway with a work investment program to find and reduce sources of infiltration in the sewer network to try to reduce the frequency and duration of discharges from the storm overflow.
“We have also commissioned work to design a new treatment structure to serve this watershed and deal with the increase in flows. This is only under review at this time as we need to determine if this is the most appropriate and cost effective solution for customers. This would also require approval from regulators, but we will keep local stakeholders informed of developments as we work with other agencies to help improve local river water quality.
Natural Resources Wales was approached but no comment was provided.