‘THEY’VE COME CLEAN AT LAST’
ANGLERS have claimed victory after Welsh Water was forced to “clean up” a lake polluted by sewage.
The company is investing £4.6m on improving its waste water treatment works in Llanberis to prevent further pollution of Llyn Padarn, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to the endangered Arctic char fish.
It comes after years of legal battles by Fish Legal, on behalf of the Seiont, Gwyrfai and Llyfni Angling Society, who had complained of declining fish populations – and the near extinction of the char – with regular algal blooms and water deoxygenation.
Regulator Natural Resources Wales (NRW), its predecessor Environment Agency Wales, and Welsh Water had denied for many years that sewage was causing problems in the lake, blaming the regular algal blooms on climate change and other unknown sources of pollution.
Fish Legal spent more than £300,000 fighting the cases, which were unsuccessful in court.
But NRW has now reviewed the permits at the site and set new standards for phosphorus, resulting in Welsh Water investing in storm water tanks, inflow diversions and recirculation systems.
Fish Legal’s Mark Lloyd said: “We are pleased to see the regulator and water company have finally come clean about the source of the pollution, despite nearly a decade of denial and expensive legal wrangles to try and avoid taking action to protect this beautiful lake.
“We are only able to fight these cases because of income we receive from subscriptions and donations from members, without which there would be no future for fish stocks and angling on Llyn Padarn.”
Seiont, Gwyrfai and Llyfni Angling Society secretary Huw Hughes said: “At long last, NRW has acted to force Welsh Water to take the necessary action to clean up their act. The sad thing is it’s taken so long.
“Without Fish Legal’s persistence, there is little doubt NRW and Welsh Water would still be sitting on their hands. The lake’s water is now showing a marked improvement.”
A spokesperson for Welsh Water said: “The Llanberis wastewater treatment works... complies with the standards set by our regulator NRW.
“Between 2010 and 2015, we invested £3.6m at the works to drive improvements. This work included meeting tighter treatment standards set by NRW, which helped the lake meet the water quality standards necessary to be awarded bathing water status in 2014, making it Wales’ first designated freshwater bathing lake.
“The more recent NRW investigations concluded the permitted discharges from our treatment works partly contributed to a complex water quality impact on the lake, which took the form of an algal bloom in 2009, but that the changes to permits already planned by NRW were sufficient to address this.
“There is no evidence that the discharge of final treated effluent has caused damage to fish stocks.
“We are currently investing a further £4.6m to make sure the treated wastewater we return to the environment continues to be of the highest standard.”
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