A Cleaner River Clyde
SEPA bows to pressure from Fish Legal and takes action against Scottish Water over the poor performance of Glasgow sewage works
Source: Fish Legal
SEPA has given notice to Scottish Water that it must put forward proposals to upgrade Dalmarnock sewage works after Fish Legal showed that its poor performance was leading to the frequent spills of raw sewage into the River Clyde.
Fish Legal was called in by its member fishing club the Mid Clyde Angling Association to investigate a massive fish kill incident on the Clyde in July 2013, after SEPA (the Scottish Environment Protection Agency) had looked into the matter and taken no action. There were concerns that the fish kill, which may have wiped out as much as 10% of the entire Clyde salmon run, could be repeated unless lessons were learnt.
After a thorough investigation, Fish Legal was able to show that poor standards of management and the antiquated infrastructure of the Dalmarnock sewage works, which serves the east end of Glasgow, was the cause of regular spills of sewage into the River Clyde and a significant contributor to the July 2013 fish kill.
Fish Legal wrote to SEPA in May 2015 setting out its findings and calling on it to take action against Scottish Water to ensure that the Water Treatment Works operates to acceptable modern standards.
SEPA has responded by issuing a Notice to Scottish Water requiring the utility to submit a detailed report on the modernisation of the works by the end of March 2016. The report is required not only to set out how Scottish Water will modernise Dalmarnock to bring it up to the necessary standards but also to provide a timeframe for action.
In the meantime, SEPA has required that Scottish Water run the plant to 'best practice' to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to ensure that the key systems, including the storm tanks, are operated to minimise the chances of spills into the Clyde.
SEPA has informed Fish Legal that, given the scope and anticipated expense of the modernisation programme, it expects the works to be completed by 2018 at the very latest.
John Clark, of the Mid Clyde Angling Association, commented:
"Although the quality of the River Clyde has improved greatly over the last few decades it is clear to us that sewage pollution has remained a huge problem for the river in general and the continuing recovery of salmon populations in particular. We welcome the work done by Fish Legal in highlighting the poor practice at Dalmarnock sewage works and congratulate SEPA on taking action to improve the situation."
Robert Younger, of Fish Legal, said:
"It is no longer acceptable that our rivers can be treated as open sewers, especially ones that run through major cities such as Glasgow. We will be keeping a close eye on the situation to ensure that pressure is kept on Scottish Water to get the modernisation programme completed as quickly as possible and by 2018 at the latest.
The return of salmon to the River Clyde is a rare success story in UK fisheries management but it could be put at risk unless urgent and comprehensive action is taken to clean up sewage effluent."
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