Scheme to improve River Wharfe moves to next stage

The next phase of work to reduce sewage discharges into the River Wharfe has been started by Yorkshire Water.

A large storm water tank is being installed in Ilkley in a move aimed at reducing the frequency and volume of discharges from the storm overflow into the waterway.

It follows a new £15m sewer pipe built in the town earlier this year and comes as part of a wider programme of works in the area.

One local water campaigner said sewage discharges into Ilkley's waterways had been "disastrous".

Yorkshire Water said the tank would function by holding storm water collected during periods of heavy rainfall, before releasing it into Ilkley's wastewater treatment works once this had passed.

The construction of the tank was expected to be completed in spring 2025.

Andrew McKinley, project manager at Yorkshire Water, said: "We’re pleased to be commencing the next part of our investment in Ilkley.

"Increasing capacity at the treatment works will have a significant impact on the water quality at the designated bathing water site in the town, as will the following stages of the project."

Becky Malby, from the Ilkley Clean River Group, welcomed news of the scheme's progress, saying that some of the infrastructure proposed for the town could offer a "potential solution" that could be "copied across the whole country" if successful.

"In Ilkley for about one third of the year there's sewage being discharged in the river," she told the BBC.

"We've had quite a bit of rain already this summer and if you have a nice day after a rainy day then children are playing in the river amongst the sewage.

"It's obviously disastrous for their own health but also for the wildlife population in the river as well."

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