Author Topic: Dry Sink sewage  (Read 998 times)

Offline Joe Duxbury

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Dry Sink sewage
« on: January 02, 2021, 05:13:11 pm »
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.

Offline Joe Duxbury

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2021, 03:03:52 pm »
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

https://www.sas.org.uk/EndSewagePollution-SewageBill

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.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2021, 04:29:57 pm »
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!

Offline Edd

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 11:01:21 pm »
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.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2021, 07:12:03 am »
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.

Offline Edd

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2021, 09:50:08 am »
We need to keep the two issues separate: specific water quality at Dry Sink and CSOs/storm discharges in general.

At any cave (or in the country in general), if people think that there is a pollution, they should report it to the water companies or else the EA or Natural Resources Wales or Scottish EPA. That will mean that is properly investigated and handled and can lead to a prosecution if necessary. Water companies do prefer it if you tell them first because they can respond more quickly (so reduce the impact).

For the Wye, I expect that the main source of pollution is from the fields and industry. There were news stories last year alleging that poultry farms are causing pollution. This re-enforces my point about focusing on water quality: it's the bit that will determine whether you're healthy or sick and finding the source of poor quality water means you can deal with the root cause.

The campaign against CSOs risks throwing the baby out with the bath water. It's like confusing car journeys (all discharges including storm overflows) with car accidents (pollutions). I don't doubt the intentions of the people involved and applaud people campaigning to improve the environment but they're trying to use the wrong instrument and one that will have unintended negative consequences.

Offline Ed

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2021, 11:07:13 am »
what Edd says is correct

Then there is the matter of private cross connections to surface water systems.

There is a simple way of reducing the number of CSO discharges - separate the surface water (rain) that is the reason for CSO from the foul. However, the general public aren't going to like what it will cost them to deal with their drainage matters as it wont be part of the "public" sewer infrastructure  & they will be liable for it.


Offline Judi Durber

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2021, 01:24:59 pm »
Posted by: Edd: Today at 09:50:08 am
Quote
At any cave (or in the country in general), if people think that there is a pollution, they should report it to the water companies or else the EA or Natural Resources Wales or Scottish EPA. That will mean that is properly investigated and handled and can lead to a prosecution if necessary. Water companies do prefer it if you tell them first because they can respond more quickly (so reduce the impact).

For the Wye, I expect that the main source of pollution is from the fields and industry. There were news stories last year alleging that poultry farms are causing pollution. This re-enforces my point about focusing on water quality: it's the bit that will determine whether you're healthy or sick and finding the source of poor quality water means you can deal with the root cause.

They have been very aware of the problems that Joyford Pumping station causes as this video proves from 2013 when the monitoring failed after a pump broke.

They are still allowed to pump into the stream over 7 years later


We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life waiting for us.

Offline Edd

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2021, 09:02:06 pm »
Judi, the reason that they'll still be allowed to still use the discharge seven years after the 2013 incident because they will have an environmental permit allowing them to. The sewage network is designed with specific storm relief points, which is what this particular discharge will be.

Welsh Water publish their storm overflow data online although the CSO is not known as Joyford Mill so you'd have to search the whole area list until you find something that looks familiar.
https://www.dwrcymru.com/en/our-services/wastewater/combined-sewer-overflows/valleys-and-south-east-wales

I do understand why you don't want the cave to be polluted and the rag and sanitary towels, etc is pollution but this is why companies are already penalised for these. The issue is that banning the use of CSOs to fix the problem is not environmentally sound because i) most river pollution comes from other sources so the proposed bill doesn't do anything about the significant issues and ii) it comes at significant environmental cost in the form of power use, chemical use, concrete use and land use.

This whole issue has not been helped by a lot of news stories last year along the same lines as this one "water firms discharged raw sewage into England's rivers 200,000 times in 2019"*. This isn't incorrect but it is misleading. Those 200,000 times are predominantly storm overflows so '...discharged mainly rainwater into England's rivers...' would be more accurate. It isn't a false statement because it is raw sewage: raw because it has not been processed in a sewage treatment works and sewage because it has been in a sewer. As soon as any rainwater enters a sewer, it becomes raw sewage.

So if people want to sign the petition, first complete the statement: I think it is a good idea to use power and chemicals to process rainwater before returning it to rivers because ...

If there were a campaign to improve water quality or to reduce pollutions, we'd be on the right track.

*https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/01/water-firms-raw-sewage-england-rivers

Online Speleofish

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2021, 10:18:48 pm »
Surely part of the answer is to try to mitigate local flooding with leaky dams, beavers etc? Not to mention netter agricultural practices such as underplanting crops like maize to reduce run-off.
You'll never eliminate all floods but you can reduce the impact.

Offline DickW

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Re: Dry Sink sewage
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2021, 04:57:49 pm »
All interesting stuff and Edd is quite correct that most pollution is from agriculture or industrial discharges, the former particularly because it is generally ignored as background whereas discharge events are often followed up and action taken (at least they were when the EA had enough staff).

I think thereare several over-arching points. The standard of water quality, around the coast and in our rivers particularly, is pretty dreadful. It has improved significantly but that has been largely due to public pressure from Surfers Against Sewage and others (I remember surfing off the Gower in my youth, an experience spoilt by developing mouth ulcers and infections in cuts) and all 3 contributory causes should be addressed.

If Ministerial statements made about agricultural grants and environmental management etc in our new sovereign environment are to be believed, [a very, very  big if] agricultural and industrial incidents should get a higher focus of attention. In which case that leaves storm overflows. Even if this Bill is not passed and it almost certainly won't, it keeps the issue of water quality in the political eye and the greater the public support for it, as a proxy for all water quality, the greater the chance of Government doing something, at least to maintain current standards and not let them slip.

It's also important to remember that climate warming will result in increased rainfall and increased storm intensity. So without forward planning and action where possible, these incidents will increase in frequency and severity. 

It’s also not a zero-sum game, as Edd implies. Since privatisation, the water utilities have run up a £50bn debt burden. Some of this goes into infrastucture, much of it goes into payment of executive salaries, bonuses and dividends. Good dividends raise share prices which, in turn, generate good exec bonuses and higher salaries. That cycle does nothing to deal with water quality or the hideous and solvable problem of losses of treated water from the network. If the politicians force action, dividends and bonuses etc will go down (hopefully not debts up) and a greater proportion of money received from rates etc can be spent on infrastructure. And yes, we may have to pay more but for too long people have appear to have considered treated water as something free, with no value, to be wasted at will.

I signed it a while ago, not because I suspect that the Bill will pass but because I want the issue to stay in the public eye.

 

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