Sewage dumped into river in Pontypool more than 100 times last year
Twm Owen, local democracy reporter
Sewage was dumped into a river in Pontypool on more than 120 occasions during 2021 – impacting on the quality of the water.
The dumping into the Afon Lwyd, at New Inn, has been identified as mostly the result of heavy rainfall causing untreated sewage from the Pont-y-Felin Lane Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) to gush into the river.
The sewer has been identified as a “high spiller” with data collected for Welsh Water confirming the dumping is impacting on the Afon Lwyd, where the water has been confirmed as of only “moderate quality”.
Sewage discharge, along with barriers to fish migration and urbanisation, were identified in 2018, as the reasons for the water not achieving “good status”.
Figures show there were 129 occasions when sewage was released into the river last year.
Welsh Water is now proposing to create a reed bed and wetland to soak up the discharge and treat the sewage before it enters the river with the intention of removing pollution and improving water quality.
It says the experimental “nature-based solution” would treat the majority of the spills while it will also measure how effective creating wetlands is in treating wastewater released following heavy rainfall.
There would be a screened by-pass for “exceptional storm events”.
The Afon Lwyd runs across the western side of the Pont-y-Felin Lane area, which is an existing recreation area with tracks and a public right of way running across it.
The recreation area would also be improved.
Details of the plan to address the sewage discharge and improvements to the area are contained in documents submitted to Torfaen County Borough Council by engineers Arup on behalf of the water company.
It says “limited low-key” visitor facilities at the site could include cycle parking, “natural” play features, a space for outdoor learning and low maintenance gravel paths for walking and cycling as well as bins and benches.
There would also be a boardwalk through the reed beds and across the wetland area as well as stiles, for walkers, in an area that would be fenced off to keep dogs out and protect the wildlife.
The plans state: “The scheme will create an attractive and naturalistic wetland downstream of the reedbed to further enhance the water quality benefits of the system, to increase flood storage and to provide appropriate wetland habitat for target species.”
Arup has asked the council to agree with it there is no need for an environmental impact assessment to be carried out before the work can begin.
It has acknowledged the works could lead to a loss of habitats for badgers, otters and dormouse as well as reptiles and invertebrates during earthworks but has proposed mitigations.
A decision on whether an environmental impact assessment is required will be made by council planners.
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