A WATER company has been fined for exceeding legal levels of amonia discharge from a south Shropshire sewage works.

Severn Trent Water Ltd pleaded guilty at Telford Magistrates’ Court to one charge of breaching the condition of an environmental permit.

The company was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £3,878.36 in costs, along with a £15 victim surcharge.

This case was brought by the Environment Agency relates to the discharge of ammonia from the Severn Trent Water Bishop’s Castle sewage treatment works between March 2010 and March 2011.

Severn Trent Water’s Bishop’s Castle sewage treatment works is authorised by an environmental permit.

A condition of its operation states that the discharge from the sewage treatment works should not contain more than 10mg/l of ammonia between October and April inclusive and 5 mg/l at all other times.

All sewage treatment works must meet the discharge limits for harmful substances in their environmental permits at least 95 per cent of the time in order to maintain the quality of the river or stream into which they discharge.

Twelve samples were taken at Bishop’s Castle Sewage Treatment Works over a 365 day period and three of those samples were above the set ammonia limit. Therefore, one quarter of the samples taken failed to meet the standard required by the permit.

“We take cases of pollution to watercourses very seriously due to the environmental damage that can be caused,” said Adam Shipp of the Environment Agency.

“In this case, Severn Trent Water fell short of its responsibilities to properly manage and maintain its sewage treatment works which led to higher levels of ammonia being discharged to the watercourse.

“As an organisation we will not hesitate in prosecuting individuals or, as in this case large companies, in order to protect our environment.

“We are now working closely with Severn Trent, local businesses and the local agricultural community to improve water quality standards locally.”

Severn Trent Water apologised for the breach of its permit and admitted there had been management failings at the works.

It said that the treatment works had also been affected by the cold weather in the winter of 2011 and that had problems treating effluent from a local abattoir, which subsequently closed.