Tuesday 22 December 2020


Aquifers are underground layers of permeable rock, sand, sediments or soil which collect and hold water. They are the usual source of springs and wells and can create underground reservoirs. In our town, Llanelli, they are common and the unseen collections of water below the ground are both a marvel and sometimes a problem and even a danger.Here warnings in small letters about the likely sewage pollution of a council owned beach.Carmrthenshire has dealt with this problem by stopping testing the beach after tests in 2009 showed massive bacterial levels, and asking visitors to wash their hands.
AQUIFERS FOR FIGHTING FIRES Llanelli has quite a number of areas where Aquifers are recorded. All along the coastal margin there are several large aquifers. They were mapped by the fire service during the second world war to be tapped if needed if Llanelli was bombed. Also 2 large artesian underground reservoirs were earmarked for use in emergency firefighting, which are beneath Furnace. Village and School.
YSGOL GYMRAEG Y FFWRNES Sometimes these aquifers do get in the way. The new Ffwrnes School had to be built, for some reason, on the artesian Stradey Fault, causing some delay, as standard foundations failed and the school needed to be built on floating foundations. The environmental assessment at the planning stage advised that the pressure beneath the foundations should be monitored and a system put in to vent water . It was planned instead to install attenuation ponds and underground water storage to try to control the waters beneath the school. Whether this has worked or not I don't know. I'm currently a governor there so I am very happy to meet via teams, not only for Covid reasons, but also just in case no one is monitoring the foundations, which would not suprise me.
FFYNON ELLI I believe that a mineral water produced from, Ffynon Elli, was once sold as bottled water from the aquifers beneath Furnace . This was one of the 7 wells and springs from which Llanelli obtained drinking water prior to the building of the Trebeddrod Reservoir in 1854 which then became the main source of drinking water. In this case the Aquifer were clearly of some use and may be again.
A HOLY WELL? Ffynon Elli was thought to be a holy well, the water said to have health giving properties, Its exact site is unknown now, but there were at least 2 wells in the area, one said to be on Cille land and one somewhere between Old road and New Road. Perhaps we could encourage tourism? Llanelli is ideal for extracting water, not only has the town got a large amount of water underneath it, but also multiple artesian springs in the higher land behind the town. As the rainfall is increasing due to climate change , some of these are now more active. Perhaps a local entrepreneur will one day consider reviving some of our wells and springs commercially?
RAINSCAPE – HAS THE STATION AQUIFER SLOWED THE SCHEME? Another area where the aquifers have caused problems is where they block developments, most recently related to Rainscape. This project was designed to stop the large numbers of sewage spills currently still being made into the Loughor Estuary This is a protected NATURA area, but as the local sewage treatment plant could not cope with the volumes, the sewage has to be vented into the Estuary to stop backflow flooding of raw sewage into residential parts of the town.
LIES AND DECEPTION – LETS PRETEND NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. Unfortunately the constant sewage spills have destroyed some of the rare wildlife in the Estuary and in 2005 a major sewage spill caused a mass death event which wrecked the shellfish industry. The local Cockle Hand Gatherers led by Robert Griffiths and the Stradey Residents Association, led by their chair, David Rees, took a case against the UK Government in the European Court which proved, in 2016, that Welsh Water, with the collusion of Carmarthenshire County Council and the Environment Agency (now NRW),were allowing unlawful Sewage spills. In order to satisfy the court judgement in 2016 the UK promised to address the infringement. I have heard that some in Natural Resources Wales now claim that as we have left the EU there is no need to follow their environmental laws. This is completely untrue.
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU VOTE FOR – IF YOU WANT TO PRESERVE THE ENVIRONMENT Our local environment has been injured by sewage spills and they are still happening under the watch of our Senedd, Natural Resources Wales which should protect our environment but does not in this case, and Carmarthenshire County Council, whose excessive housebuilding in the clear knowledge that there is insufficient sewage capacity to treat the human waste products , is yet another disgrace our elected representatives have foisted on us. With so much empty talk about saving the planet its good to see our Labour Senedd Member and our Plaid Cymru County Council all turning a blind eye to the destruction of a major fishery and important European wildlife conervation area. Just not important enough fpr them to care about.
EXACTLY WHEN WILL THE SEWAGE POLLUTION STOP? The Rainscape project is running late after hitting a large aquifer underneath the station. I have been told that the large drain along Station road has been dug through the aquifer but that there are still problems with back flows of water into the town, and also possibly problems with pumping the excesses out to sea. Pentre Awel, the Breezy village planned to replace the Wellness Science Park and Kuwaiti Medical school in the firmament of Carmerthenshire county Council's dreams of future economic development, seems to be just the old plans for a liesure centre and old people's home already funded to replace the old leisure centre and St Paul's care home. No sign of the massive City Deal cash once hoped to fund the grand plans. Private investment will fund the rest, apparently, hopefully when WWDC works our how to sort out the sewers of Llanelli and clean up the bays.
The major goal of Rainscape was a plan to remove surface water, which used to run into the sewers, and pump it via Delta Lakes and out into the sea This was planned to allow the volume of the sewage to be reduced by concentrating it so that the sewage spills could stop. Welsh Water’s own figures show that the sewage spills still continue frequently. The cockles have returned, but are in reduced numbers, slow growing and stunted, smaller than they used to be. A recent train derailment has also polluted the estuary and it is not yet clear how much more damage has been done to the fishery..
SURELY IT IS TIME TO CLEAN UP THE BURY INLET AND STOP THE SEWAGE POLLUTION? Its a shame that a town with so much water can’t keep its shore clean of sewage, and even more of a shame that it is elected politicians, council officials and government bodies who should have cleaned up the mess caused by the town’s sewage pollution, seem, in many cases, not to bother! Even when the European court found that Llanelli was polluting its own estuary against the EU and UK environmental laws , what has happened? As far as I can see, very little. Rainscape was probably selected as the cheapest option . Why then was the aquifer missed on the geological survey ? In a town noted for its aquifers, why not check where they are, before spending millions? Members of the Llanelli Flood Forum have recently submitted written and detailed questions to Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru on the subject of why the major component of Rainscape is yet to be completed? WWDC have replied saying that rather than reply in writing, they would like to show us a presentation some time in the future. I really would like detailed answers and I'm sure Welsh Water have someone who can write? If Rainscape had worked and the water was getting cleaner, we would know about it. It would be a triumph for Welsh Water, it would be on the news. Silence from public bodies usually means that they don't want to talk about that topic, and the main reason we don't hear about these matters is that something has gone wrong. Like the UK Government finding out that the £200 million private matched funding for the Wellness Centre maybe didn't really exist, for instance. The Truth would be nice. Cllr Sian Caiach Llanelli Rural Councillor for Hengoed Ward 01554 785046 sian.caiach@gmail.com