Concerns over ‘sewer’ River Tavy

By Sarah Pitt   |   Reporter   |
Tuesday 21st June 2022 6:00 am
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The weir at Abbey Bridge in Tavistock , where surface scum and debris is being spotted on a daily basis. Picture: Peter Bellamy.

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CONCERNS have been raised about sewage and rubbish spotted on a regular basis in the river downstream from Abbey Bridge in Tavistock.

Resident Peter Bellamy takes his daily walk alongside the river in the centre of Tavistock.

He has reported seeing scum which has collected just downstream of the bridge, beside the weir.

He said on Friday morning that he had spoken to a South West Water driver who had parked beside Abbey Bridge in Tavistock and asked if he was there to investigate the pollution.

‘He said no but he was talking to a litter picker at the time and they had been discussing the pollution,’ he said.

‘They both agreed this is a virtually permanent problem and the driver said he had seen all sorts of deposit, from cement, dyes, raw sewage (assumed from the smell) and more.

‘He reports it when seen but never any comment back.’

Mr Bellamy said he had previously reported the pollution to South West Water which is responsible for discharges into the rivers.

‘South West Water suggested it was just run off by the Highways Agency, but it looks a lot more serious than that.

‘It is a steady stream going into it. It looks more like a sewer than a salmon river. It is more than just bubbles from the weir.

A spokesperson for South West Water said: ‘There have been no recent pollutions in the area and all of our assets are operating as expected.’

South West Water says it is actively working on ‘ inland river bathing water pilots on the Rivers Dart and Tavy which will enable the company to test the implications, costs and benefits of achieving bathing water designation and deliver specific asset enhancements where necessary to achieve these aims’.

‘We are engaging with stakeholders in the area and have commenced the installation of monitors to measure water quality.

Four schemes are now underway focused on the removal of phosphorous and ammonia, including investment in additional storm storage, in line with our targeted programme.’

This follows criticism of the amount of sewage ending up in local rivers, including the Tavy, at times of heavy rainfall. Storm drains are operating more requently.

South West Water is urging people spotting a sewage leak or pollution to call 0344 346 2020 or visit www.southwestwater.co.uk/advice-and-services/yourwastewater/reporting-a-suspected-pollution/

As part of this, we are progressing with inland river bathing water pilots on the Rivers Dart and Tavy which will enable us to test the implications, costs and benefits of achieving bathing water designation and deliver specific asset enhancements where necessary to achieve these aims.

We are engaging with stakeholders in the area and have commenced the installation of monitors to measure water quality. Four schemes are now underway focused on the removal of phosphorous and ammonia, including investment in additional storm storage, in line with our targeted programme.

South West Water asks customers who spot anything they think could be a sewage leak or pollution across Devon or Cornwall to get in touch so it can be investigated as a priority. Customers can call 0344 346 2020 or visit www.southwestwater.co.uk/advice-and-services/your-wastewater/reporting-a-suspected-pollu

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