Magistrates in Bodmin ordered South West Water to pay £5,255 in fines and costs on 28 February over discharges from its North Fal Sewage Treatment Works in Cornwall which failed to comply with the terms of its Environment Agency consent.

The case came to light when a member of the public phoned the Environment Agency’s pollution hotline on 27 June last year to report that the sewage works situated at the village of St Stephen Coombe was giving off a smell and that the river immediately below the works was discoloured.

An Agency officer went to investigate and found that the final discharge of treated sewage effluent into the Gwindra Stream was of a poor standard. Samples taken on June 27 and 28 showed that the discharge did not meet the required Environment Agency standard. After contacting the water company the Agency found out that a problem with equipment at the site had been identified by South West Water two weeks prior to the incident and that remedial measures had not succeeded in curing the problem.

South West Water Ltd, based in Exeter, pleaded guilty to contravening the conditions of a consent to discharge final sewage effluent into controlled waters contrary to Section 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991.

“It is essential that proper maintenance takes place at sewage treatment works, yet here a problem had been noted but was not successfully resolved,” said Dean Evans in court for the Environment Agency. “Where mechanical problems occur it is vital that these are fixed as soon as possible and measures to protect the environment are put in place.”

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