Southwest Water, again.....
South West Water has been ordered to pay £8,637 in fines and costs for failing to alert the Environment Agency to a serious problem at its Ivybridge sewage treatment works.
On January 16, 2012 the Agency received complaints from members of the public about a discoloured and foul-smelling discharge coming from the treatment works.
South West Water had earlier contacted the Agency to report a problem with a pipeline at the site. The company said the fault had been repaired by January 12 and that it hadn’t resulted in a significant deterioration in the quality of effluent discharged into the River Erme. This was checked and confirmed by the Environment Agency.
However, after repairing the pipeline, the company returned some old sludge to a part of the treatment known as the activated sludge tank where it caused major problems to a vital part of the treatment process.
Sewage sludge built up in the final settlement tank and some of it overflowed into the River Erme. It was this discharge that members of the public could see and smell. The company is obliged to notify the Environment Agency of any problem that may adversely affect the quality of effluent discharged from the works.
An Agency officer saw the effluent was discoloured and noticed a ‘very strong unpleasant odour’ both inside and in the vicinity of the treatment works.
The River Erme estuary lies within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and has a popular bathing beach, Mothecombe, at its estuary mouth.
‘Water companies are required to inform the Agency of any problems as soon as is practicable. On this occasion, South West Water failed to notify us and it was left to members of the public to raise the alarm,’ said Jon Snowden for the Environment Agency.
South West Water, of Peninsula House, Exeter was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,637 costs by Newton Abbot.magistrates after pleading guilty to an offence under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010. The case was heard on Wednesday (April 24).