Raw sewage seeps into river after pipe bursts in Awliscombe
PUBLISHED: 17:30 10 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:31 12 January 2018
South West Water believes the environmental impact on the river is ‘minimal’ - but resident Martyn Summers is demanding the company replaces the pipe.
A major sewage spill in Awliscombe farmer’s field has been slammed as ‘unacceptable’ after hazardous waste seeped into a tributary of the River Otter.
Martyn Summers, who manages Kains Storage Park in Honiton, made the unsavoury discovery in his field this morning (Wednesday) - and is demanding South West Water replace the whole line before it happens again.
Mr Summers, 49, says the sewage spill was the third one to have happened in just over a year - each time resulting in foul-smelling hazardous waste being pumped above the surface.
He is now urging bosses at South West Water to recognise the problem and replace the whole pipeline.
“This is has been an ongoing issue,” he said. “The pipe leaked in December 2016 and January last year.
“South West Water needs to replace the main pipe. Every time it breaks, lots of raw sewage comes up.”
Mr Summers, who rents out the field, says raw sewage seeped into the River Wolf - a tributary of the River Otter - as a result of the leak.
However, South West Water says the burst looks to have had a ‘minimal’ environmental impact on the river.
The affected pipe runs from Hembury Fort in Awliscombe into the village’s sewage pumping station, and then on to Honiton’s sewage treatment works.
As well as potentially containing harmful bacteria including E. coli and salmonella, Mr Summers says a big issue with raw sewage is that it is hard to distinguish against normal water.
He added: “What people do not realise is that raw sewage does not look like what goes into most toilets.
“It just looks like grey, dirty water, so when it’s in a river, you won’t know its there.
“The smell gives it away, but when in a river it is hard to determine what is raw sewage.”
Mr Summers said he believes the pipe will break again if not fully replaced, adding: “South West Water needs to recognise this problem.
“The pollution these spillages are causing are unbelievable.
“I rent this field out to someone and it is not fair that they have to deal with these issues.”
A spokesman for South West Water said: “We immediately attended site and shut down Awliscombe Sewage Pumping Station, which transfers wastewater through this pipe to Honiton Sewage Treatment Works.
“Tankers are being used to transport the wastewater until the pipe is repaired tomorrow.
“We believe the burst has had minimal environmental impact on the River Wolf, but we are of course monitoring the situation closely.
“The Environment Agency has also been informed.”