photo public domain
photo public domain

Mariam Kamish, Caerphilly Socialist Party

Welsh Water, a BBC exposé reveals, has been dumping raw sewage into our rivers and into the sea to wash up on our beaches.

Last year, in 83,000 separate spills, the company dumped untreated sewage for nearly 600,000 hours.

Six major Welsh rivers make the top ten list of the most polluted in the UK. But this is not just a Welsh problem.

Throughout most of the UK, rainwater and wastewater are carried in the same pipes. When it rains a lot, overloaded plants are allowed to dump untreated sewage. The BBC found that Welsh plants do this even when it’s not raining, as have water companies in England (see ‘Cut the crap renationalise water’).

One plant in Cardigan almost never treats the level of wastewater it’s meant to – and discharges untreated sewage into a rare dolphin habitat.

Welsh Water has admitted that 40-50 of its wastewater treatment plants are regularly breaking the rules – which are far from stringent.

But the regulator, Natural Resources Wales says it’s looking at data from 101 Welsh Water treatment plants that spill waste before they reach permit capacity.

In the eight years its been monitoring, it’s issued only enforcement notices, no fines. In many places there’s not even regular monitoring of water quality.

Unsurprisingly, Welsh Water says it can’t afford the £9-14 billion cost to update its Victorian infrastructure. And even a ‘new’ plant – installed in 2004 – has proved substandard.

Despite his shocking level of failures, the CEO of Welsh Water took home £232,000 in bonuses alone in 2021! And Welsh Water continues to raise its prices to the public.

We say clearly not-for-profit companies like Welsh Water are not the answer. Renationalise all the water companies and put them under the democratic control and management of the working class! Only democratic public ownership of water, big businesses and the banks can ensure our services get the investment they need and are run safely in the interests of all.