Last week’s devastating announcement that the Teifi is Wales’ most polluted river as a result of raw sewage being knowingly spilled from Welsh Water’s wastewater treatment plant in Cardigan has prompted a strong backlash from campaigners who are demanding an immediate reaction from the water company.

Calls are now being made for:

A full review of Welsh Water’s discharge permits;

 A ban on bosses’ bonuses and

 Tougher laws to take action against illegal sewage dumping.

"I'm pleased that the truth has finally come out, but it's unbelievable that such a significant mistake was made and I'm disgusted that it has taken this long to decide to fix it,” commented Davie Crisp, founder of The River Teifi Campaign.

Campaigners are also questioning the £20,000 pay rise awarded to the Welsh Water chief executive at a time when sewage was being consistently spilled into Welsh rivers.

Between 2020 and 2022, Peter Perry received a pay rise to his basic salary of more than £20,000, taking him from £309,000 to £332,000. Mr Perry has said he will waive his bonus for this year, but his total remuneration is still expected to rise 17 per cent when pension accruals are included.

Welsh Water’s admission follows a BBC investigation by Professor Peter Hammond which confirmed the illegal spillage of untreated sewage at dozens of treatment work throughout Wales. Worst hit was the Teifi after the Cardigan plant illegally spilled for more than 200 days each year from 2019-2022.

However locals fear the  spills have been taking place for considerably longer, as the treatment plant was installed way back in 2004.

Natural Resources Wales has confirmed that it has been aware of the Cardigan issue for the past eight years and has served numerous enforcement notices on the plant. However no fines have as yet been issued.

Fish Legal, a team made up of lawyers who fight on behalf of anglers against polluters of rivers, lakes and the marine environment is now putting pressure on Natural Resources Wales to conduct an urgent review of all its discharge permits.

“It’s clear that Welsh Water are habitually failing to treat sewage coming into their works across the country,” said Justin Neal, who is a solicitor with Fish Legal.

“We want Natural Resources Wales to explain why they think existing permits they have issued to the water company to control sewage overflows are compliant with the law.”

Calls have also been made by Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds, MS, for an immediate clean up and for tougher regulations to be imposed.

Speaking at this week’s autumn conference in Wrexham, she said, “This is a shocking admission and the Welsh Government can no longer dodge this issue.

“The Welsh Labour Government have failed time and again to take action on sewage in our rivers. We have the second highest bills in England and Wales, yet company bosses have been awarded thousands in bonuses and at the same time have been illegally dumping sewage into our rivers.

“It is now time for a full review of Dwr Cymru, a ban on bosses bonuses, and tough new laws to take action on sewage dumping in our rivers.”

Meanwhile Welsh Water has confirmed it is undertaking ‘investment to improve the situation’.

“Whilst this initial upgrade made some improvement, we are investing a further £20m at the site in 2025 to ensure full compliance with the discharge permit,” commented a spokesperson.