South West Water Fined

Environment Agency News Release

South West Water has been ordered to pay £1,865 in fines and costs for releasing poor quality effluent into a stream near Lyford Gorge. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

The offence was discovered during routine monitoring of Lydford sewage treatment works by Environment Agency officers who take regular samples of effluent to ensure the works is operating correctly.

Situated close to Lydford Gorge, the sewage treatment works occupies a sensitive location.

The Gorge, which is owned by the National Trust, is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Devon. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

A court heard that in 2005 the treatment works was upgraded as part of an improvement programme agreed with the Environment Agency.

Effluent from the works is discharged into a tributary of the Raddon Stream which flows into the River Lyd, an important salmon fishery and nursery area for young salmon and trout.

South West Water’s discharge consent specifies maximum concentrations for a number of variables including suspended solids and ammonia. Of the 12 samples taken in any one year, up to two are allowed to exceed the specified limit before the sampling programme is judged to be non-compliant.

In 2007 three samples taken from Lydford sewage treatment works exceeded the ammonia standard. The third sample, that caused the breach in the water company’s consent, was taken on May 30. Since then another five breaches have occurred at the works.

‘The sensitive location of Lydford sewage treatment works makes it all the more important for the operator to ensure any effluent discharged from the site is fully compliant. The consent to discharge is important because it safeguards the environment,’ said Paul Mitchell for the Environment Agency.

Appearing before Plymouth Magistrates, yesterday (Dec 20, 2007), South West Water, of Peninsula House, Rydon Lane, Exeter, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £865 costs after pleading guilty to, between May 30 and November 14, 2007, contravening a condition of its Consent to Discharge from Lydford Sewage Treatment Works contrary to Section 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1990.