Raw sewage discharged more than 500 times into the River Almond

Raw sewage discharged into the River Almond over 500 times in 2019, it was revealed this week by West Lothian’s SNP councillors who called for an action plan from Scottish Water to clean up the river.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 7:00 am

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Councillor Diane Calder the group’s environment spokesperson said: “Thanks to local campaigners for their persistence in obtaining these figures.

"This is a shocking failure of all agencies to adequately treat waste. In effect our river is being used as an open sewer.”

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A petition was previously launched to halt the release of raw sewage

The group of councillors met with a recently formed River Almond Action Group (RAAG) last month.

Since then, the SNP group has written to Scottish Water who retain responsibility for water standards although Veolia manage the Waste Water Treatment Works on their behalf.

During and after even moderate rainfall, the current waste water works are simply unable to cope – when this happens raw sewage is discharged straight into the River Almond. This waste is visible and detracts from the enjoyment local people get by using our Country Park.

Councillor Moira Shemilt continued “During lockdown, when movement around the country has been restricted, wild water swimming has become very popular in West Lothian. This is not just of benefit physically but has also been shown to be therapeutic for mental health. We are delighted to hear that the Forth Rivers Trust has applied to SEPA for bathing water status for parts of the River Almond. Local people should be able to swim here in our country park.”

Parts of the Almond Water have also been blighted by dumped waste

And group leader councillor Janet Campbell concluded: “Scottish Water state on their own website that ‘Pollution can cause a risk to human health, affect biodiversity, amenity value and has the potential to kill fish and other aquatic life’ yet have allowed this level of pollution to happen on a regular basis in one of the primary locations in West Lothian for local families to enjoy. This is quite simply not good enough – Scottish Water must now produce a plan for action, showing how they and their partners will progress the cleaning up of our river.”

A Scottish Water spokeswoman said: “We are listening to concerns of the community and are committed to doing all we can to protect the River Almond.

“It is important to highlight the waste water network and treatment works are operated under strict regulatory policy and regulated licences.

“Along with Veolia, we are already engaged with local stakeholders and community groups to help protect the River Almond from pollution and will continue to liaise with them and the wider community on our operations, assets and future plans for the area.

“Scottish Water strives to protect the environment whilst providing an essential service to our many customers. We continue to campaign and encourage people to ensure only the three Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper – are flushed down toilets and fats, oil and grease are not poured down sinks to stop blockages and flooding.”

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