Posted: Fri 26th Aug 2022

Local authority backs call for Welsh Water to stop dumping sewage in the River Dee

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Aug 26th, 2022

A local authority has backed a call for Welsh Water to stop dumping sewage in the River Dee.

Earlier this week the boss of Chester Zoo wrote to Welsh Water over the “unacceptable discharge” of sewage into the River Dee which is causing a “significant threat” to wildlife including a critically endangered insect species.

Chester Zoo is actively involved in conservation work to rescue the Scarce Yellow Sally Stonefly from the brink of extinction in the UK.

The endangered species was rediscovered in the UK in 2017 following a 22-year absence

The Scarce Yellow Sally Stonefly – which is only found in the River Dee – is one of the rarest stoneflies in the UK and Europe and its rediscovery is of international significance, being the westernmost point in Europe where the species is found.

Jamie Christon Chief Executive Officer of Chester Zoo also said sewage discharges into the River Dee present an ongoing threat to declining birds such as redshank, curlew, black-tailed godwit and pintail.

Last week a sewage discharge warning was triggered via a water quality map for a section of the River Dee between Eccleston and the Groves Chester.

Surfers Against Sewage has created an interactive map tracking real-time CSOs (combined sewage overflows) and PRFs (pollution risk forecasts).

The map is part of the charity’s Safer Seas and Rivers Service.

Warnings are triggered when sewerage has entered the water within the last 48 hours.

Mr Christon has now written to his counterpart at Dwr Cymru/ Welsh Water, Peter Perry regarding the “unacceptable discharge of sewage” into the River Dee last week.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has now called on water companies operating in the borough to address the levels of raw sewage being released into its rivers.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said:

“We fully agree with the view stated by Chester Zoo and agree that what appear to be frequent discharges of sewage into the River Dee are just not acceptable.”

“Because we realise the importance of the issue, the Council itself has recently invested over £8 million in a new, one kilometre long rainwater drainage tunnel under Chester. This is to reduce flooding and untreated sewage discharges into the River Dee arising from the old, combined sewer system.“

“This new drain can handle 1,000 litres of rainwater per second and serves an area of around 50,000m2 – which equates to around nine football pitches.”

“The Council’s contribution is just a small part of what is required, and we now call on the water companies themselves and the Government to follow suit and to address the situation.”

Welsh Water said:

“Combined Storm Overflows (CSOs) play a vital role in preventing homes being flooded following rain and storms because most of our network is a combined system that collects surface as well as wastewater.  The operation of our CSOs – which mainly release surface water that enters our sewers due to rainfall – is highly regulated by our regulators.

“We are committed to providing information on the operation of our CSOs and publish this information on our website.  We also notify interested parties, such as Surfers Against Sewage, of spills and this includes the CSO in the Chester area.  This is included on their Safer Seas and Rivers app.

“To further improve the information on the operation of our CSOs we proposed to provide upstream and downstream information and we have been working to complete this.  We have encountered some technical difficulties which has caused some delay, but we aim to have this completed as soon as possible.

“As a company we have also committed to launch an interactive web-based overflow map covering our operating area which will shortly be launched and by 2025 we will be able to report all CSO within an hour of them operating.

“We regularly carry out cleaning work on our sewers in the Groves area to ensure they are free of obstructions that can cause blockages which can reduce the capacity within our network. Chester also contains a large amount of impermeable area and with more intense rainfall we are seeing more and more surface water getting into the sewer network. We are working closely with the Local Authority in trying to manage that surface water and prevent it from entering the sewers in the first place.

“We are aware of the letter from Mr Christon at Chester Zoo and have already reached out to request a meeting”.

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