South West Water to pay £350,000 over ‘serious’ pollution

The money will benefit watercourses in Plymouth as an alternative to prosecution by the Environment Agency

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South West Water has agreed to pay £350,000 to a charity following a “serious” pollution incident in Plymouth that wiped out the local fish population.

The Environment Agency has agreed the payment, known as an enforcement undertaking, which will be made to the Westcountry Rivers Trust, as an alternative to prosecution and will benefit urban watercourses in the Plymouth area.

Officers responded to reports of dead fish in the Tamerton stream in August 2016 and the pollution was traced to an overflowing manhole on South West Water’s combined sewer network.

The water company and its contractors stopped the discharge the following morning, however, the pollution had a substantial impact on the watercourse, killing more than 100 brown trout.

The money will help fund a programme of works known as the ‘Plymouth River Keepers Project’ that will help offset the damage caused by the water company.

Mike Ingman from the Environment Agency said: “The Tamerton Stream has suffered several pollution incidents over the past five years.

“It is good to see a positive outcome from what was serious pollution of a local stream. South West Water has since cleansed the mains ewer line that runs through the woods and this should help reduce the likelihood of any further pollution.”

South West Water said it takes its environmental responsibilities “very seriously” and does everything it can to prevent pollution incidents.

Ed Mitchell, Operations Director for Waste Water Services added: “In the unfortunate event of a pollution incident, South West Water will seek to restore and remediate any damage caused by way of an enforcement undertaking (EU). EUs are viewed very positively by South West Water because they are directly targeted to benefit the environment and the local communities which have been the most affected.

“At Widewell Woods, the pollution was caused by a blockage in the sewer which was due to a build-up of unflushable materials such as cleaning and baby wet wipes. These items do not break down in the sewer and so they should not be flushed down the toilet.  The correct route for the disposal of such items is in the bin.

“The incident at Widewell Woods illustrates how important it is for all of us to only flush the 3Ps – pee, paper and poo – down the loo.”

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