Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 16:53 UK

Sewage spill sinks river festival


A river festival has been cancelled after bad weather causes raw sewerage to be discharged into the river Towy.

Organisers of a river festival have cancelled the event after spotting sewage in the water.

They were hoping to attract up to 5,000 to the River Towy in Carmarthen for a week of activities including raft and coracle racing, kayaking and sailing.

But following heavy rainfall they have pulled the plug after spotting sanitary towels, condoms and faeces in the Towy.

Welsh Water had tried to reassure organisers there was no need to scrap the events from 31 May.

But following discussions with the utility company on Friday organisers said they could not go on with the programme.

Festival chairman Ian McCue said: "We came down here last night because we were going to start setting up the activities for the festival - it takes a considerable amount of preparation.

Ian McCue
We need it in writing from them saying that river is fit for purpose but they won't give it
Ian McCue

"When we arrived there was a distinct smell and when we looked at the river there was all kinds of sanitary towels, condoms and human faeces in the water."

He said they feared someone could fall ill as a result.

"After talking to Welsh Water we have no choice but to cancel it - we need it in writing from them saying that river is fit for purpose but they won't give it."

The festival was first held in 2006 and last year Mr McCue said more than 5,000 attended.

"The town has really taken it to its heart," he added.

"Last year there were over 300 competitors in the raft race and everyone loves it."

Immediate action

Carmarthenshire Council's head of public protection Philip Davies said sewage was discharged into the river following torrential rain

"The pumping station and sewerage system is designed to do that, to prevent sewage backfilling in pipes and flooding peoples homes," he said.

"The council has acted immediately to get in touch with Kielder Water which operates the Welsh Water pumping station and they are taking immediate action to clean the area.

"As the River Towy is tidal at this point it will take a few days to complete the operation."

A statement issued by Welsh Water said: "Following a period of intense rainfall in Carmarthen yesterday, our Pothouse Wharf pumping station in the town briefly released storm water into the River Towy.

"Our systems are designed to operate in this way and discharges such as this are consented to by Environment Agency Wales.

"We are meeting with the River Festival organisers this afternoon to reassure them that their event can go ahead as planned."

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