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19/07/2013 - Fish Legal forces regulator action to save rare fish



After 20   years of campaigning by Fish Legal, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) finally   agrees that sewage dumped by Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water into Llyn Padarn at   Llanberis in North Wales caused “environmental damage” to the lake.  NRW   have now served a legal notice on Welsh Water confirming they are   responsible for reversing this damage.

The once   pristine lake – close to the iconic Snowdon mountain and popular with   tourists – has suffered on-and-off from pollution for many years –   culminating in  the “algal bloom” of 2009 when the lake became toxic,   went bright green and all swimming was banned.

In early   2012, frustrated by regulator inaction to stop the sewage and protect the   genetically unique strain of arctic char found in the lake, Fish   Legal took the novel approach of formally “notifying” NRW under the   Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009. The   notice asserted damage was being caused to fish and that the water quality   had deteriorated.

Legal   Notice

Following   notification and 17 months of ‘investigation’, the NRW confirmed on 11th July   2013 that treated and untreated sewage pumped into the lake had led to algal   blooms and a breach of water quality requirements under European Law.

The Agency   has now given Welsh Water 3 months to submit proposals to reverse the damage   caused by its historic sewage inputs.

Problem   solved?

Fish Legal   represents the Seiont, Gwyrfai and Llyfni Anglers who hold the fishing rights   at Llyn Padarn and fear that without decisive action its rare fish will   be lost forever.

Although   NRW wants Welsh Water’s plans to restore the damage it has already caused,   there are no required steps to “prevent” further environmental   damage.   There are also huge gaps in what anglers and local   people have been told, and of significant concern is Welsh Water’s use of   “combined sewer overflows” (or ‘CSOs’) that discharge untreated sewage   directly into the lake.

The actual   quantity of sewage discharged out of these CSOs, which operate (in NRW’s   words from the decision document)  “on a regular basis”, is still not   disclosed.  CSOs are supposed to be an emergency safety valve for the   sewerage system so that – for example – toilets do not back up in extreme   weather conditions.  They are not there to release sewage into Llyn Padarn   whenever it rains, or because Welsh Water does not upgrade inadequate sewage   treatment infrastructure.

Fish Legal   is pressing the regulator for more answers and further action on these   points.

William   Rundle, Fish Legal Solicitor said:

“It   comes as no surprise to us that Welsh Water has been found responsible for   causing environmental damage to Llyn Padarn. A 2011 report by the regulator   monitoring water and sewage company performance identified them as one of the   worst performers, specifically citing them for 'poor total sewage pollution   and permit compliance performance' ”.

"Whilst   we welcome this step towards putting right past damage we want to see an end   to all untreated sewage discharges. We will continue putting   pressure on both the regulator and the water company to make sure they come   clean about what they dump in the lake, and so full preventative measures   are put in place .”





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Martin James Fishing
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