Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water works to protect rivers and other waterways by treating the wastewater from our homes and businesses and safely returning it to the environment. It requires huge amounts of equipment and thousands of kilometres of sewers.
Help us minimise pollution in water by telling us as soon as possible if you see sewage pollution in a river, stream, or other watercourse.
The obvious sign of river pollution is the presence of sewage in the water, but there may also be other indications. These include:
- Toilet debris, such as tissue paper, condoms, wet wipes, and sanitary products
- Soap suds or a milky-looking discharge in the water
- A noticeable sewage smell
- Traces of petrol or diesel in the water
Most pollution incidents only have a minor impact on the watercourse and once we fix the problem, the environment recovers quickly.
However pollution can kill fish and other aquatic life, cause a risk to human health, and also affect biodiversity, amenity value, and the use of water and land for agricultural purposes.
If you spot a pollution, reporting it to us as quickly as possible can help us fix the problem and reduce the environmental impact.
Pollution incidents can occur on both Wastewater and Water Supply assets.
Water Supply pollution can be caused by a discharge from one of our Water Treatment Works, or from a burst on one of our water mains that enters a watercourse.
Wastewater pollution can be caused by a discharge from one of our Wastewater Treatment Works or Sewage Pumping Stations as a result of mechanical failure, or from a discharge on the foul sewer due to a blockage or collapse.
53% of our wastewater pollution incidents are caused by blockages with about 24% of incidents attributed to blockages caused by wet wipes!
Other causes include:
- Bursts on pressurised pipework from our Pumping Stations or Collapses of our sewers
- Mechanical or electrical failures of pumps and other equipment
- Loss of treatment at one of our treatment works
- Discharges from our storm overflows due to blockages
Using toilets as bins
Flushing away rubbish down the toilet can cause blockages in sewerage pipes, sometimes leading to the flooding of homes and pollution of the environment. Our ‘Stop the Block’ campaign encourages people to dispose of their waste correctly and to only flush the three P’s – pee, paper and poo.
Fat, oil, and grease (FOG) poured down kitchen sinks and drains can build up in sewers and cause blockages and flooding. To help avoid this, please dispose of them correctly.
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water operates a massive network of sewers and treatment works – and occasionally pollution incidents that lead to river pollution occur. These have averaged more than 200 in recent years, and we’re working hard to reduce this number. Natural Resources Wales has set us a target of 70 pollution incidents by 2025.
Water pollution solutions: Our Pollution Reduction Action Plan involves:
- Maintenance and improvement schemes to prevent pollution incidents from occurring – we’re spending 51.2million on pollution between 2020 and 2025.
- Using root cause analysis to understand the cause of the problem and share learning to prevent pollutions
- Improving the remote monitoring of our assets to prevent pollutions
- Using artificial intelligence and data to predict and prevent
- Using new technology and innovations to improve how we predict and respond to pollution incidents.
Our goal is ‘zero tolerance’:
At Welsh Water our vision is simple, ‘to earn the trust of our customers every day’.
This vision reflects our unique ownership structure as a not-for-profit water company. We don’t have shareholders so we can concentrate on delivering the best possible value for money and reinvest our profits into the business to improve outcomes for our customers and the environment.
Our model makes it easier for us to focus on the long-term, which will be crucial for managing future challenges we can expect to face like climate change and urban creep. Our 2050 vision sets out our aspiration to approach these challenges with long-term sustainable solutions
Sewage pollution has been included in our company vision: “...that customers should be able to look forward to: ...a zero-tolerance approach to pollution”.
If you see pollution in water from our pipes or other equipment, then please ‘phone our hotline immediately on 0800 085 3968 or report pollution online here.
Please give us as much information as you can about the polluted water, as well as your contact details. We’ll investigate and take any action that’s needed. And if you choose, we’ll keep you updated.
How can you help minimise the risk of pollution?
Most Pollutions incidents are caused by blocked sewer systems.
You can help us by:
- Throwing all wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products away in the bin.
- Disposing of fat, oil, and grease responsibly instead of pouring it down the sink
- Ensuring grey water appliances such as sinks, dish washers and washing machines are connected to the foul sewer and not the surface water system to prevent a miss connection.
Involving the community
If you’re involved in community activities and would like information on pollution, or perhaps our advice on a community project please email us with your request and contact details to RiverQualityLiaison@dwrcymru.com. A member of our team will be in touch.
Living & learning with water
Would you like your children to know more about the vital role water plays in our everyday lives? We've a wealth of interesting information and resources, all linked to the national curriculum. They’ve been developed with educational experts to stimulate and educate Key Stage 2 pupils. More information can be seen by clicking here.
Combined Storm Overflows
CSOs are designed to operate during heavy rain so that if they do operate then any sewage present is heavily diluted with rain and surface water.
The operation of our CSOs is highly regulated and is permitted and monitored by our environmental regulators Natural Resources Wales and Environment Agency.
We’re working hard to minimise water pollution but if our assets aren’t functioning as they should or there’s a problem then there’s a chance that we could cause pollution.
Our commitment to you