YORKSHIRE Water has moved to reassure Ilkley residents the town's waste water treatment works is operating as it should after sewage was discharged into the River Wharfe after rainfall on Monday.
People contacted the Ilkley Gazette to report a "stench" on Monday morning and others said sewage could clearly been seen on the sides of the river.
But Miles Cameron, area manager for Yorkshire Water, said: "We want to reassure residents in Ilkley that the outfall at our waste water treatment works on Ashlands Road is operating as it should. The outfall is essentially used as a relief valve that allows heavily diluted sewage to spill into the river
during storm conditions. If this relief valve did not exist to relieve pressure on our sewer, the storm water could back up and flood homes or gardens. This outfall, and the many others we have across the region, is permitted by the Environment Agency.
"Although it may have felt like there wasn't much rain earlier this week, the sewer system in Ilkley is a combined drainage system which takes sewage
and rainwater which runs off a very large catchment area, including the hills nearby, Ilkley itself and Addingham. It would be easy to think there's no reason for the system to be overloaded and need to release pressure, but that is what happened and is exactly how the systems are designed to operate.
"Residents can play their part in helping to keep our sewers flowing. We find things in our sewer network that shouldn't be there on a daily basis;
wet wipes, nappies and fat are the most common, but we also find items such as bricks, planks of wood and even the odd Christmas Tree! When the sewers
get blocked up with these objects they can cause people's homes and gardens to be flooded with sewage. We need your help in spreading the message that
our sewers aren't bins... they only take the three Ps - pee, poo and paper."
*Yorkshire Water is also investigating what is causing a repeated sewage spill in Ben Rhydding.
Ilkley resident Jeremy Dyson contacted the Ilkley Gazette to report concerns about the health risk to people using the footpath in Ben Rhydding, which is a main route up to the Cow and Calf on Ilkley Moor.
Mr Dyson said he had been pressing Yorkshire Water to sort out the problem for some time. "For a month there has been a sewage leak running down the footpath," he said. "Yorkshire Water has been informed and confirmed that it is raw sewage."
Nicole Jones from Yorkshire Water said: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the sewage spill near Constable Road in Ben Rhydding, Ilkley.
"Our team have been out on a number of occasions to jet the sewers with water to attempt to clear any blockages, they've also cleaned up any areas that have been affected by the spill."
She said a specialist team attended on Sunday to dig down into the sewer to look at what is causing the repeated problem.
"We'd like to thank everyone for their patience and we'll aim to fix the problem as soon as possible," she added.