WHERE THE CAVES ARE - The Caving Regions > Forest Of Dean

Dry Sink sewage

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Joe Duxbury:
To all cavers concerned with the Forest of Dean, I have been asked by Paul Taylor to give the video below 'as much publicity as possible'. I have copied his message, which I received earlier today, to this forum.

It was filmed at Dry Sink on December 29th. Not a very nice situation.

The problem was found to be a fractured pipe in the Rising Main out of The Lonk Pumping Station further up the hill which resulted in the lower Joyford  Station not being able to pump fast enough and hence the result is an overflow.

I reported the matter to Welsh Water and had numerous phone calls from them. One was asking me to confirm the location of the pumping stations as they could not find them. [This is madness! Welsh Water staff can’t find one of their own pumping stations!]
I reported the incident to the Environment Agency via their Incident Hotline which resulted in return calls up to
22.00 hrs on the 29th. I have since supplied a copy of the video, a picture and a copy of the survey . I am waiting for the local officer to get back in touch with me.

I will keep everyone [GSS] posted of any developments.

Fortunately we are not caving at the present time so hopefully the underground situation will have improved by the time we can get back into the cave.

It's a good job 'Smello-Vision' didn't take off.

Joe Duxbury:
Paul Taylor, the FoDCCAG chairman, has asked me to let you know the latest developments regarding the Welsh Water sewage release:

There is currently a Bill being raised in Parliament by the Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP. He represents Ludlow and is
Conservative Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee. His bill is getting a second reading on January 22nd and is designed to strengthen the pressure on the Water Companies to do more to reduce the number of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO's) that take place. Something like 2000 took place in 2019 and that is only the ones that were reported. It is possible that overflows at Dry Sink caused by the rain do not get reported.
The bill is also designed to put pressure on the water companies to reduce their reliance on CSO's. These are exactly what happen at Dry Sink.

If you put Philip Dunne MP into your browser and click on Sewage Bill you will see what is going on.

or use


This will take you to the Surfers Against Sewage site and provide the method for everyone to contact their MP and ask them to support the bill. The problem is country-wide - it is not solely a problem in the Forest of Dean, that's why Surfers Against Sewage are concerned.

Would you to circulate this information around as many people as possible - friends, your caving club members and anyone who you feel would be happy to be involved and ask them all to contact their local MP. The more pressure the more chance we have of making progress.

Mr Dunne has been sent an email outlining the issue and problems that exist in the Forest of Dean, both at Dry Sink and St Arvans.

My suggestion was next time you had an incident like this you tipped in a good dose of fluorescein with it. That would bring it  to people's attention when the Wye goes green!

Are you sure you fully understand what you're supporting? I do work with CSOs for a different water company and the private member's bill and Surfers Against Sewage campaign miss the point: the only thing that matters is water quality; this is looking at any discharge to rivers from a CSO.

I understand why most people would think that any discharge from a sewer is bad news but the majority of CSO discharges are storm overflow events - when there's too much rainwater in the system, so predominantly rainwater and a bit of dilute sewage is discharged. The alternative is for the system to back-up and it will come out of someone's toilet and flood their home. The discharges that do matter are pollution events. They're bad, storm discharges aren't.

So pollution will make caves dirty and make people ill but rainwater won't (it's what makes the caves, after all). This also means that a the frequency of the discharge doesn't matter, only what it discharges.

A blanket ban on CSOs is also likely to be worse for the environment, which I presume is that exact opposite of what people are looking for. This is because if the excess rainwater can't be discharged then it will need to be treated and there will be a lot higher power consumption to move all of the rainwater (pumping), a lot more chemical usage during treatment and also a lot more land-use and concrete poured in order to build more storage tanks. There will also need to be a lot more and large pipes to transport all of this rain water.

Additionally, most of the pollution in our rivers comes off the land and from industry and a small proportion comes from the sewers. So this bill is proposing a measure that misses the significant problems and results in worse environmental impacts.

The video was taken after a very wet period so it's highly likely that it was a genuine storm overflow.

For this particular cave, I would contact Welsh Water (again) and check that they realise that the discharge point flows into an area used by people recreationally. Bathing waters, canoeing spots, etc and SSSIs are among the sites that are treated as a higher priority. You will need to contact their Event Discharge Monitoring (EDM) team. If Welsh Water don't understand that a site is sensitive, you can't blame them for not making it a priority.

So supporting this campaign is actually distracting everyone from dealing with the genuine causes of pollutions (which may be CSOs in some cases) and having an overall worse outcome for the environment.

Edd makes a good point but in this case there is a failry serious water quality issue. The water goes straight into the River Wye a heavily used recreational site.  The best one can say is that the river wye may naturally clear rapidly after theses sort of events.


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