- Mines pollution fear investigated
- Coastal bathing waters / stream water quality following the recent floods in North Ceredigion
- Deposition of flood flotsam and other materials in coastal areas.
- Drinking water quality following the recent floods in North Ceredigion
- Play grounds and recreational parks
- Algal blooms
- Fuel storage tanks
- Flooding of gardens and allotments
Concern has recently been expressed that farmland has been contaminated with heavy metals from lead mine spoils and this could pose a risk to animals and crops. The University of Aberystwyth is initiating a survey of the flood plain areas to investigate the issue.
The Environment Agency Wales took river samples on the Rheidol catchment on the 8.6.2012 and again on the 13.6.2012 this will show pre and post flood results, which will be available in approximately 14 days. The Environment Agency has an on-going monitoring and mine remediation programme and does not anticipate any significant health or environment damage. Ceredigion County Council also agrees with this viewpoint and is making arrangements to work with the University and Environment Agency Wales to investigate the issue. Environment Agency Wales have officers surveying the locality to assess flooding impact on the area for this and other environmental issues.
Although the recent flooding may have acted to remobilise some metal-rich sediment in the river bed and banks, the material has been present in the river for decades if not centuries and has been subject to many previous high flow events. Any mine flows would have been heavily diluted by high river flows. Natural erosion of minerals in rocks has contributed to background levels of metals in the sediments within the Rheidol and Leri catchments and other river systems in the county.
The public is advised that sea / stream water quality may have been affected by the recent severe weather events and flooding that has taken place in parts of north Ceredigion. The rivers Leri and Rheidol were particularly badly affected with impacts possible on sea bathing water quality at Aberystwyth, Borth and Ynyslas.
Members of the public are advised to follow advisory guidance when clearing up following any flooding (public health advice leaflets are available from the Council) and to take care and avoid ingesting water in any water contact activities. Children should be kept away from any inland waters that are in flood and not allowed to play in rivers / streams and coastal zones near estuaries until such times that sediment loadings have diminished and river flows have reduced.
Bathing water samples are taken at all main tourist resort beaches by Ceredigion and the Environment Agency every week during May – September. Results are reported and published on the Environment Agency's website [See: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/news/140105.aspx and http://environment.data.gov.uk/lab/bwq-web.html ] and Beach notice boards.
The Council is working in partnership with the Environment Agency Wales and Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water to ensure that any flood damage caused to public and private sewerage systems is repaired with minimum delay.
Owners of Caravan parks have been advised to check the condition of their sewerage systems. Further site visits are being arranged to offer advice and guidance in partnership with the Environment Agency Wales
Members of the public / visitors to Ceredigion are requested to report incidence of waste deposited on the fore-shore and river banks. The Council will work in partnership with the Environment Agency Wales, Coast Guard, private landowners and Emergency services to identify and remove such waste with minimal delay. Beach users are advised not to touch or handle such items in the interest of health and safety and to report such incidents to the Council.
Such items will typically consist of drums and containers such as l.p.g. gas bottles, and dead animals. It has been reported that low salinity in coastal areas near estuaries may have caused spider crab mortalities and that some dead animals are being washed ashore. Spider crabs move inshore in huge numbers in the early summer to moult their shells and spawn.
It is not believed that any parts of the public drinking water supply network have been directly affected by the recent flooding. If members of the public have any concerns, however, about the public drinking water supply they should either contact Dwr Cymru or CCC at the following contacts:
The owners of private water supplies, however, are advised to check the condition of their supplies and to look for any evidence of the ingress of flood water into wells, boreholes or any storage on site etc. The operational condition of any treatment processes should also be checked. If there are concerns the supply should not be used for drinking / cooking / brushing teeth etc. purposes and the Environmental Control Section of Ceredigion County Council should be contacted so that arrangements can be made to risk assess and sample the water supply. In the meantime bottled water or water from an alternative wholesome supply should be used for drinking etc. purposes. The existing supply of water can continue to be used to flush toilets.
The owners of any caravan parks affected by the floods, including those using public supplies of water, are likewise advised to thoroughly check their systems and to look for any effects of flood water on the supply of water distributed around the caravan site (and particularly on any storage, pumping or treatment that may be in use). Again if there are any concerns the supply of water should only be used for flushing toilets and alternative supplies found for drinking etc. purposes. CCC and / or Dwr Cymru should be contacted for advice and appropriate guidance.
The recent flood water is likely to have carried a significant loading of nutrients to coastal waters. Algal blooms may be reported and are quite common in the Spring months. Reports of scum and foam that may ensue during warm, stable weather conditions are generally due to the breakdown and decay of algal blooms which thrive when the surface waters of the sea warms up. Similar blooms can occur in the autumn when a warm stable period follows the first seasonal gales and storms which break down the thermocline and releases more nutrients to the upper layers of the sea water column.
The issue described is checked on a weekly basis during sea water sampling surveys. For further advice please see that Environment Agency website: [ [See: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/news/140105.aspx and http://environment.data.gov.uk/lab/bwq-web.html ] ]
Algal blooms are a natural occurrence and are prevalent all around the coast at this time of year.
The main indicators of flood contamination are silt and debris. Ceredigion County Council is continuing to take steps to remove debris from sports grounds and play areas and to remove silt and debris from hard surfaces and equipment used for recreational purposes.
Useful advice is available in the Environment Agency website, [ See: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/topics/pollution/39083.aspx and http://www.oilbankline.org.uk/documents/oil_care_code_eng.pdf ]
Fuel storage tanks and supply lines should be checked by qualified heating engineers or plumbers for damage and leakage following the flood incident. Water pressure can readily lift oil tanks and damage pipework.
If your fuel supply line and central heating fuel tank has been flooded you should also seek advice from your insurers and the fuel supply company. The Environment Agency Wales gives useful advice on precautions that may be taken against recurrence of damage to tanks from flood events.
Be aware of black staining on the tank supports and bases, this may indicate a leak.
Be aware of oily smells. This may indicate a leak.
Oil leaks can cause problems such as contamination of soil, fumes within properties, contamination of water courses and contamination of water supplies. Oil can penetrate plastic water supply pipes giving rise to odours, taints and risk to health.
Not all household insurance policies cover this type of leak. If your policy does not cover oil leaks consider including it in your cover. If a leak occurs and you are not covered you may have to pay for clean up out of your own pocket
The County Council has been in contact with managers of petrol filling stations affected by the recent flood event. Investigations have shown that there does not appear to have been any environmental impact from the premises concerned.
The best advice is not to eat garden or allotment produce that has been in contact with flood water. Further advice is available on the Environment agency website. As a precaution, throw away any vegetable crops that have been covered by floodwater. Remove silt and other debris in case it is contaminated. Let weeds germinate as this will help to dry out the soil, then hoe them off before they flower. [See: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/files/Internet2007/2008/40/ea%20advice%20leaflet%20on%20flooding%20in%20gardens.pdf ]
The advice from the Health Protection agency (HPA) is not to eat allotment food unless it has been cooked.
[See: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1194947339369 ] The Food Standards Agency advises people not to eat any food that has been touched or covered by floodwater or sewage. Do not eat any produce grown on an allotment or
garden that has been flooded, unless it has been cooked.
Guidance from DEFRA is also useful. [ See: http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13558-cogap-090202.pdf ]
Floodwater from urban or industrial areas, including from sewers, are other potential sources of contamination. Seek professional advice on the actions that should be taken, including veterinary advice if livestock are involved.