Wednesday 28 May 2008

Troubled Tywi

Sadly, it seems that Carmarthen’s annual River Festival has had to be cancelled this year, at very short notice. This is a great pity; it is always a highly enjoyable event, into which a lot of people put a great deal of time and effort.

The raft race is a firm favourite, with a good range of teams entering a variety of novelty rafts, most of which seem not to have been subject to any testing before the start of the race. That was scheduled for this Sunday afternoon, with the 'Jumping the Tywi' contest to follow next Wednesday, as well as a range of other events during the week-long festival, which was due to start tomorrow.

Cancellation will not only be a disappointment to locals; it will also be a blow to the tourist industry locally, particularly given the reason for cancellation. Not a good advertisement for the area, I'm afraid.

We’ve had a lot of rain over recent days, and the result has been an overflow of what has somewhat euphemistically been described as ‘storm water’ at a pumping station, on at least three separate occasions in the last week.

Since much of the fun (for onlookers at any event) at some of the key events depends on the participants getting extremely wet, the organisers have concluded that raw sewage flowing in the river makes it unsafe to proceed.

I remember some years ago when I was a member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, the then council leader famously said in one meeting something along the lines of “People don’t swim in the sea off Barry Island, they merely go through the motions”. (I should immediately add, in fairness to Barry, that a lot of work has been done since then to clean up the waters of the Severn Estuary). But this is no joke. In the twenty first century, how on earth can we still be in a position where a little heavy rain means that our main rivers effectively become open sewers?

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