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WATCH: Yorkshire Water denies River Wharfe sewage claims as one Ilkley resident warns of 'absolute health hazard'

sewage river wharfe

7:22am 9th July 2018
(Updated 11:35am 10th July 2018)

Yorkshire Water is playing down concerns, after one resident claimed sewage is being pumped into the River Wharfe in Ilkley on a regular basis.

Waste from a treatment works on Ashlands Road near the suspension bridge is only supposed to be released into the water under storm or snow melt conditions.

But resident Karen Shackleton says the sewage is being pumped into the river too often, every time it rains.

She says she last noticed discharge on the 16th June after a rain shower which lasted ten minutes. 

Karen told Stray FM: 

"It's disgusting and I feel people should know. People are completely unaware of it and they're all swimming in it.

"They've all been playing in the river, cooling off, and all around them there's sewage that's been festering here for weeks in the sunshine."

sewage ilkley

A close up of the treatment work drains on the bank of the Wharfe

sewage ilkley

Karen claims these dark areas are remnants of sewage, which has been festering in the sun  



 Karen says she has been documenting the pollution for years, and has contacted a number of agencies to try and highlight the problem. 

Yorkshire Water denies Karen's claims, stating they are acting under the license set out by the Environment Agency.

Yorkshire Water’s Catchment Manager, Chris Page, said: 

"Our treatment works on Ashlands Road in Ilkley has an overflow which is essentially used as a relief valve that allows heavily diluted sewage to spill into the River Wharfe during storm conditions. If this relief valve did not exist to relieve pressure on our sewer network, the storm water could back up and flood customers’ homes or gardens. We operate over 1,800 outfalls across the region, and these are permitted by the Environment Agency.

 "This overflow only activates when there’s been heavy rainfall, and our technicians visit the site to check and clean up if necessary. We were working in collaboration with Bradford council after the Boxing Day 2015 floods where a damaged culvert caused a minor issue as it was diverting water into the sewer, but this was fixed in Autumn 2016. This increase in water in the sewer from the culvert did show an increase in spills from the overflow, and since this has been fixed we’ve monitored the site closely with the EA and we’re satisfied the site is fully operational and well within the permit conditions set out by the Environment Agency."

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said:  

"The Environment Agency frequently assesses operations at Yorkshire Water’s Ilkley Sewage Treatment works against the conditions of its environmental permit, which is designed to protect people and the environment.

“Whilst we are satisfied that the works are compliant with the conditions of its environmental permit, we would encourage anybody who sees untreated sewage in any part of the river to report it to our incident hotline number 0800 80 70 60 so that we may investigate and hold those responsible to account”.

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