No plans to fix sewer system that has ‘lumps of poo’ running down a main road
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Welsh Water have no plans to fix a flooding sewer system, despite rivers of human excrement regularly running down a main road into a tributary of the River Conwy.
“Lumps of poo” seep from a manhole cover at the lay-by on the A5 at Capel Curig whenever rainfall is heavy, the sewage stream carrying used toilet paper towards farm fields and a river.
The sewage then runs into the Afon Llugwy, a tributary of the River Conwy, raising serious environmental fears.
The lay-by is between Capel Curig and the nearby army camp, but angry councillors say the problem has persisted for nearly 20 years.
It’s thought the problem is caused by narrow pipes in a sewage system that dates back to Victorian times.
But despite an outcry, Welsh Water admit they have no plans to carry out work.
Conwy county councillor Liz Roberts says she has written to both Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru) and Natural Resources Wales without success.
“I’ve been a councillor since 2004, and the problem has been there since then and before,” she said.
“We’ve reported it and reported it to Dwr Cymru, and all they say is ‘it’s only a hamlet’ and ‘we don’t get enough reports coming in to go to the top of the list to be actioned’.
“We are told they are Victorian drains, so they fill up very quickly. But the main sewer that comes down into the village is nine inches wide but goes into a six-inch pipe heading to the treatment works, and they know that is what the problem is.
“The sewage raises the lid off the manhole. It is disgusting. There are lumps of poo all over the place, and you can see it in the field as well. People are in despair because neither the NRW nor Dwr Cymru are seemingly doing anything about it and expect the community to keep on reporting it.”
She added: “We are never going to have sufficient complaints to warrant it being high on their list.”
Cllr Gethin Davies sits on the community council.
“It’s been going on for a long while,” he said. “Following heavy rainfall, it flows out of the manhole cover and then runs down the lay-by.
“Obviously there is a health risk, and it’s very unsightly having toilet paper and raw sewage lying around at a popular lay-by, and we are worried about the health side as well as it flows into a ditch and into the stream.”
‘Good working order’
But despite the environmental and health concerns, a spokeswoman for Welsh Water said they had no plans to fix the sewer system.
“We are aware of flooding from a combined sewer network near the lay-by in Capel Curig and fully understand local concerns regarding the situation,” she said.
“The combined sewer there carries wastewater and surface water, and while our investigations show that the system is in good working order, the flooding is linked to too much rainwater entering the system during periods of heavy rainfall as we have seen over the past few weeks. This is partly due to the more intense rainfall events we are now seeing due to climate change.
“As we operate a vast network of over 36,000km of sewers – which is enough to stretch to Australia and back – we have to prioritise our investment and work with other agencies to support those areas most at risk of flooding. This includes those areas where the local sewer networks get overwhelmed by extreme weather and flooding enters the homes of customers. As a result, while we do not have plans to undertake any work on the system in Capel Curig in the short term, we will keep this situation under review.”
Natural Resources Wales operations manager Iwan Williams said: “We’re in discussions with Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water to consider appropriate mitigation measures to minimise the impacts of overflow as a result of extreme weather events.”
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