ONE of the founders of a popular sea swim group in the Vale has described the horrid moment he got a mouthful of sea water affected by sewage.

It comes as there is ever-persistent pressure on water companies to improve their management of water systems in the UK.

Only last week, Natural Resources Wales downgraded Wales’s largest water company, Welsh Water, to a two-star rating following a further decline in environmental performance.

Now Penarth Dawnstalkers founder Grant Zehetmayr has described how the dumping of sewage in rivers and seas is putting people off something that could drastically improve their lives.

“It’s a barrier to people doing something that can support their mental health,” said Mr Zehetmayr when asked how the increased amount of sewage in the sea is affecting the Dawnstalkers.

“People have an appetite for these experiences, but they are asking is it ok to swim?”

That question might have flashed in Mr Zehetmayr’s mind on a recent dip in the sea at Penarth when he got a mouthful of questionable seawater.

“We have swam in the last two weeks after heavy rainfall,” said Mr Zehetmayr. “I got a mouthful of water and thought that does not taste right and it had a smell to it.”

On July 12, NRW reported the “disappointing performance” of Welsh Water saying that pollution incidents rose by seven per cent in 2022, which ultimately led to a downgrade in the company’s performance.

At the time Clare Pillman, chief executive of NRW, said Welsh Water’s performance was disappointing,

“It is very disappointing that Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s performance has continued to decline,” said Ms Pillman. “In our meetings we have been very clear about the improvements they must deliver.”

Penarth Times: Grant Zehetmayr (right) recently appeared on Weatherman Walking with Derek BrockwayGrant Zehetmayr (right) recently appeared on Weatherman Walking with Derek Brockway (Image: BBC)

Penarth Times: Some stunning scenes from the Dawnstalkers, when the sea hasn't got sewage in it...Some stunning scenes from the Dawnstalkers, when the sea hasn't got sewage in it... (Image: Aaron Jones)

Welsh Water said it is disappointed at the assessment, but insisted it is striving to deliver improvements.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We take our environmental responsibility very seriously and are disappointed that our Environmental Performance Assessment rating for 2022 has reduced to two star.

“We are working tirelessly to deliver the improvements required in challenging circumstances especially as we experience more severe weather events and extreme variation in the climate. These changes are having a significant and increasing impact on our water and wastewater infrastructure and challenging how we deliver our services.”

Mr Zehetmayr says despite all the promises this just simply should not be happening.

“I think the system we operate is outdated and I appreciate this is for everyone to deal with, but we pay Welsh Water to come up with a solution.

“It is not good enough in the modern age to do what we are doing to our waterways.”

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