WATER treatment in Usk is to receive investment over the next few years it has been announced, weeks after campaigners marched through the town demanding action.

More than £10 million is being invested in Usk over the next three years to improve the town’s water treatment works and upgrade a combined storm overflow (CSO).

Welsh Water said the CSO at the Mill Lane pumping station is designed to discharge storm waters and sewage into the river Usk during periods of heavy rain.

During the recent protest, water quality campaigner Angela Jones said explained that the Usk currently had a phosphate pollution level of 88 per cent – higher than the oft-discussed pollution levels in the Wye.

"We are losing species, they are dying," she said.

"We are not going to accept it. What we need to do is work as a community."

Some of the work already under way and due to be completed by mid-November includes the installation of a screening chamber and 6mm screen to stop items such as rags, wet wipes, sanitary products and large objects from reaching the river.

An application has also been submitted to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) so the CSO, which is currently unpermitted, is brought within the regulator’s framework.

Monmouth MP David Davies met officials from Welsh Water to discuss the investment works - which will be carried out in three phases - alongside Usk county councillor Tony Kear.

Mr Davies said that he had been "holding regular meetings" with Welsh Water and NRW to discuss the issue of pollution in the Wye and the Usk.

“We were told the Mill Lane pumping station sends sewage and drainage water to the Usk wastewater works where effluent is treated before being discharged into the river," he said.

“If the pumping station cannot cope during times of high rainfall, then waste water is diverted to storage tanks."

When these tanks become full, what Mr Davies referred to as "very dilute settled sewage" is then released back into the river "along with the treated effluent".

Welsh Water said removing the CSO completely was neither feasible nor affordable as it would entail a significant upgrade of Usk’s Victorian sewage network at an estimated cost of between £21 million and £24 million.

Mr Davies has called for the Welsh Government to replicate measures being taken by the UK Government via the Environment Bill.

He added: “The UK Government recently voted to force water companies in England to cut the amount of untreated sewage going into rivers.

"Sadly, some political campaigns misleadingly portrayed this as a vote to allow water companies to put sewage into rivers, which is a complete mistruth.

"I share the desire of everyone to tackle pollution - but constructive dialogue will be more effective than endless criticism.”

Mayor of Usk, Meirion Howells, speaking at the water quality protest, said: "The river has been in decline for many years.

"It has the worst levels of phosphates in all of Wales.

"We're now witnessing the decline in previously abundant levels of salmon and other wildlife.

"We need to give our river a voice."