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River Don: Pollution

Volume 459: debated on Monday 30 April 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what measures have been implemented in order to prevent further overflow pollution similar to that experienced in 2006 in the River Don; (133989)

(2) what the most recent assessment is of the water quality of the River Don in the area which was affected by the overflow pollution in 2006.

The Environment Agency (EA) has been working with Yorkshire Water to agree changes to operations at Blackburn Meadows Sewage Treatment Works (Sheffield), within the terms of its permit. Improved maintenance and changes to procedure should improve the ability of the sewage works to deal with future storm events.

A study is under way into the main storm overflow from Aldwarke Sewage Treatment Works (Rotherham). Any improvements the study identifies will be completed by March 2010.

The EA is starting discussions with Yorkshire Water to agree a study into the impact of the combined storm overflows from the middle section of the River Don from Sheffield through Rotherham to Doncaster. The study will establish in detail what happens when summer storms occur and what can be done to improve the infrastructure in the future. In the EA’s Periodic Review submission to the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) it will recommend that this study be carried out.

The Environment Agency's preliminary assessment of 2006 chemical water quality data shows that the River Don between Blackburn Meadows Sewage Works and Rotherham Centre (2.5 km) has deteriorated from "fairly good quality" to "fair quality" since 2005. While the river has deteriorated slightly in quality, it has not failed the long-term water quality objective set for the river.

The River Don below Blackburn Meadows Sewage Works failed the Freshwater Fisheries Directive in 2005 and has, provisionally, failed in 2006. It is believed that the sewage treatment works caused this failure. Consequently, the EA is also recommending to Ofwat that a detailed study concerning this failure be carried out.