As a company, we depend on the environment for the water and wastewater services we provide. We take our responsibilities to protecting the environment seriously and we invest around £1 million a day in improving and maintaining our networks.
We also know that customers want us to do more, especially to help protect the quality of our rivers such as the Usk. This is why we’re investing around £8 million to improve the way our assets work in New Inn.
On this page you will find some information on the challenges we face and the £8 million investment we’re planning to make in the local area.
What’s the problem?
The quality of our main rivers is monitored by Natural Resources Wales. There is concern about the river water quality in parts of the Usk as they’re not achieving what’s called ‘good’ ecological status. This means that there are too many chemicals in the river such as ‘phosphorous’ which can cause algal blooms which can affect the amount of oxygen available in the water and harm wildlife.
There are a number of factors which can increase phosphate levels. This includes how we treat wastewater before it’s returned to the environment. Our modelling of the River Usk for example shows that our assets (i.e. our treatment works, Combined Storms Overflows or CSOs) are responsible for between 21% - 23% of the phosphates in the main water bodies, with CSOs only responsible for 1%. The remainder – over 75% - is caused by other factors such as agricultural run-off and animal faeces, urban surface water drainage, misconnected drains, as well as private septic tanks.
However, we understand that this is an important matter for communities, and we are committed to playing our part to doing what we can to reduce our impact on local rivers.
Our CSOs play a vital role in preventing homes being flooded following rain and storms because most of our network is a combined system that collects surface as well as wastewater. The operation of our CSOs – which mainly release surface water that enters our sewers due to rainfall – is highly regulated. You can read more about how they operate here.
Whilst we cannot completely remove CSOs from our system as it would cost anywhere between £9-£14 billion and involve digging up almost every street in Wales, our CSOs are mainly operating as designed and permitted. However, we recognise that with environmental legislation tightening and customer expectations changing, more needs to be done to improve their performance.
We have an underground CSO located on Pont-y-felin Lane which discharges into the Afon Llwyd. We are planning to invest around £8 million to upgrade this CSO using a nature-based solution which will help reduce the amount of times that it spills and boost the water quality in the Afon Llwyd and river Usk.
To do this, we are planning to install a screening chamber to the CSO as well as features such as a mechanical screen, motor control centre (MCC) and MCC kiosk to operate it. Our plans also included building an access road and parking area which would provide our operational teams adequate access to the asset for routine maintenance.
As well as the work on the CSO, we are proposing to enhance the space by creating areas for health and wellbeing, giving people the opportunity to reconnect with their local environment. This includes footpaths, a constructed wetlands, benches and educational areas.
The area that we are proposing to do is within a green field site currently located off Pont-y-felin lane (NP4 0QF).
Our work is currently in the design and planning stages, but once we have further information that we can share we will host opportunities for the community to view our plans and ask any questions that they may have.