Residents' fury after historic Doncaster beauty spot polluted with gallons of raw sewage

Angry residents living nearby to a historic Doncaster beauty spot have demanded action and answers after a pond was polluted with raw sewage.

By Darren Burke
Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 10:57 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 10:58 am

St Catherine’s Lily Pond in Balby, which is a popular spot for walkers and anglers, was filled with stinking human waste after pumping machinery failed with sewage cascading down paths and into the water, killing dozens of fish and forcing Doncaster Council to launch a clean-up operation.

Residents living nearby to the historic pond have formed an action group and are demanding answers from Yorkshire Water about the incident, which they say is the latest in a long line of pollution problems at the beauty spot.

Keith Lawrence, whose house backs onto the natural pond, which has been used by Doncaster people for more than 100 years, said: “It’s just not good enough.

Keith Lawrence says local residents are furious that St Catherine's Lily Pond has been repeatedly polluted by raw sewage.

"It keeps happening and nothing gets done. Children play around here and how can they play safely if the paths are filled with raw sewage?”

In the most recent incident, Mr Lawrence says nearby Yorkshire Water pumping machinery failed, causing raw sewage to back up and burst out of an inspection hatch, just a few yards from a children’s playground.

Human excrement and used toilet paper then flowed down into the pond, with fish being killed by the gallons of effluent which poured into the water.

Doncaster Council has spent the last few weeks using pumps to clean up the lake, which is also filled with dumped shopping trolleys and other rubbish.

Shopping trolleys have been dumped in the lake.

A group, Friends of the Lily Pond, has been set up to help preserve the picturesque spot, which backs onto the Aintree Avenue housing estate.

But Mr Lawrence says the group’s efforts will be fruitless unless the pollution problems are stopped.

He said: “We’re happy to do our bit and keep the area looking nice and tidy, but we can’t do it on our own.

"The problem with the sewage needs sorting out once and for all and then we might have a chance.

Dozens of fish died in the latest pollution incident at St Catherine's Lily Pond.

He says the creation of the housing estate in the last few decades has put increased pressure on the area’s water pipelines leading to problems in and around the pond, which is a site of scientific interest.

He added: “Yorkshire Water told me that nothing can be done. My view is that if the pumps can’t cope, there needs to be a back up system in place so this doesn’t keep happening.

"People in the local community have had enough and we’re not going to let it drop. There’s no point us putting in effort to clean it up if it’s going to get seriously polluted again a few weeks later.”

A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said: “A few weeks ago one of our pumping stations in Balby became blocked with wet wipes and fat from the sewer.

"This meant that sewage backed up and escaped from a man hole near St Catherine’s pond. We worked closely with the Environment Agency to mitigate the impact and conduct a clean-up of the area.

“It is really important that customers remember to only flush the 3 Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper and dispose of fats and oils in the bin, in order to avoid blockages on the sewer network.”