Welsh Water Admits Decades-Long Illegal Sewage Discharge
In a troubling revelation, Welsh Water has confessed to the illegal spilling of untreated sewage from multiple wastewater treatment plants over the course of several years. The acknowledgment comes after the BBC presented the utility company with an analysis of its own data. This alarming misconduct includes one of their worst-performing plants located in Cardigan, West Wales, which has been discharging untreated sewage into an environmentally protected area near a rare dolphin habitat for at least a decade. The company has admitted to the wrongdoing and is actively working to address the issue, which was first brought to light through the efforts of campaign group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution (WASP), led by mathematician and former University College London professor Peter Hammond.
The problem primarily arises from the UK's combined sewerage system, where rainwater and wastewater share the same pipes. During heavy rain, to prevent sewage treatment plants from being overwhelmed, they are allowed to discharge untreated sewage. However, releasing untreated sewage prior to reaching the overflow level stipulated in their permits is illegal. Cardigan, in particular, has been a notable offender, spilling untreated sewage for more than 200 days per year from 2019 to 2022. Environmental concerns have been raised, as the Teifi River, into which the sewage flows, is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) inhabited by various species, including lamprey, Atlantic salmon, and otters, and ultimately connects to Cardigan Bay, home to one of Europe's largest populations of bottlenose dolphins.