AN ILKLEY councillor is meeting with Yorkshire Water this week to discuss concerns over raw sewage in the River Wharfe.

Anne Hawkesworth will meet with a representative of the chief executive on Friday to talk about claims from Ilkley residents that raw sewage is being pumped into the Wharfe at Ilkley after just a few minutes of rain.

Yorkshire Water insists waste is only released into rivers during heavy rainfall to prevent flooding to homes and gardens.

But this week councillor Hawkesworth said: “I think something within their procedure is going wrong.”

Campaigners say just 15 minutes of rain during the hot dry summer led to raw sewage, including solids and sanitary towels, being pumped into the river.

In a letter to the chief executive of Yorkshire Water Cllr Hawkesworth said: “Residents claim that discharge takes place outside permitted conditions and that unpleasant solids both organic and otherwise are found on the river banks and in the water. This is not acceptable.”

Last week a Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “It is common practice for water companies across the country to use overflows from treatment works. They act as a relief valve which allows heavily diluted waste water to be released into rivers during storm conditions. The site in Ilkley is closely monitored with the Environment Agency and we’re satisfied the site is fully operational and well within the permit conditions set out by the EA. Were these valves in Ilkley not in place to relieve the pressure on the network, the storm water could back up and flood customers’ homes or gardens.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said:

“The Environment Agency frequently assesses operations at Yorkshire Water’s Ilkley Sewage Treatment works against the conditions of its environmental permit, which is designed to protect people and the environment.

“Whilst we are satisfied that the works are compliant with the conditions of its environmental permit, we would encourage anybody who sees untreated sewage in any part of the river to report it to our incident hotline number 0800 80 70 60 so that we may investigate and hold those responsible to account.”