VILLAGERS are demanding action over ‘intolerable’ sewage smells in the Teifi river which flows beside Llandysul park.
Robert Winter, chair of residents’ group Llandysul Biodiversity, says he suspects raw, untreated sewage is being allowed to flow into the Teifi from an out-of-date sewerage plant.
The smell it produces has long been a concern for residents who are frustrated no action has been taken by water supplier Dŵr Cymru or from regional authorities.
The Teifi - Wales’ longest river - flows through Ceredigion and it saw the longest total duration of sewage discharges of any river in the country last year – and among the most of any in the UK.
The river saw nearly 19,500 hours of cumulative sewage overflows during 2021, including about 2,300 separate discharges.
It has long been of concern to environmentalists trying to bring down the levels of phosphate pollution, mainly caused by farming run-off, foul water and sewage.
Members of Llandysul Biodiversity – which has more than 263 members – say there are three Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) drains that flow into the Teifi that runs alongside the village park.
Mr Winter said: “By coincidence the storm drains that run through the park were this morning seriously smelling of sewage.
“This is untreated and it flows directly into the Teifi at Llandysul Park.
“Regulator Natural Resource Wales (NRW) says it does not have the resources and has not tested water quality at Llandysul for years.
“Welsh Water frequently have a malfunctioning CSO outlet at Wilkes Head, Llandysul, but will only say it is within permitted levels.
“We have an abundance of wildlife – salmon, sewin, otters, herons, cormorants, ducks, geese – which are affected by the water quality.
“I have sent numerous photos to NRW of foam, brown foam and agricultural plastic waste over the past three years, but I have not as yet had any confirmation from NRW that anyone from them has visited the site or tested the water quality in that time.”
Llandysul resident Jill Gough added: “When we were young, we felt free to swim in the Teifi, but we now would think more carefully about letting our children and grandchildren do the same.
“We humans are not isolated creatures, and the effect of pollution on river life will actually affect us all in the long run.
“It is tragic and foolish that sewage overflow pipes, the run off from built up areas and roads as well as farmers’ run-off slurry, are seriously continuing to pollute the magnificent Teifi and its ecosystem.
“We, as ordinary people in Ceredigion, would certainly like to see NRW and OFWAT (regulator) properly funded, so that they can more closely monitor the performance and actions of Dŵr Cymru and other water companies.
“In addition, more ambitious legal targets should be set to clean up water quality.”
A Welsh Water spokesperson denied there were any odours after checks but said after heavy rainfall the Wilkes Head CSO was used twice last week during the stormy weather - which the company says is designed to ease pressure on the system to avoid flooding to property.
An NRW spokesperson said ‘water companies have a responsibility to the environment’ and it will continue to challenge and investigate noncompliance and take action where it is required.