A LARGE slurry spill into a river near Whitland has highlighted the serious issues facing farmers this winter.

When a large quantity of slurry polluted Nant Cwmfelinboeth, a tributary of the river Taf north of Whitland, having a significant impact on water quality and fish life, an Environment Agency Wales investigation traced the source of the spill to a nearby farm.

An agency spokesman said: “Now that the source of the pollution has been found, as well as taking appropriate enforcement action, we will also work with those responsible to make sure that measures are put in place to prevent this from happening again.”

Following one of the wettest years on record, slurry storage and management systems are being pushed to breaking point.

Stores are at capacity after months of heavy rainfall and animals being kept housed for longer periods than normal, but the prolonged wet weather means ground conditions are unsuitable to spread slurry.

Nevertheless, it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit polluting matter such as slurry to enter water, meaning farmers must be increasingly vigilant to the risks on or near their land.

Farmers can get general advice on slurry storage and slurry spreading by contacting Environment Agency Wales on 03708 506 506.

To help farmers through this challenging winter, specific advice has been produced about slurry storage. It is available online at: http://www.

environment-agency.gov.uk/ business/sectors/135941.aspx.

The major spill was the latest in a number of incidents in the area recently and was reported to Environment Agency Wales officers on January 10th by a member of the public. An investigation has shown that the impact on the water quality and fish life in Nant Cwmfelinboeth was significant, but the impact on the main River Taf has been minor.

Officers will continue to assess the situation over the next few days to make sure conditions in the river continue to improve.

The spokesman added: “People should be aware that the water in the river is still likely to remain discoloured for several days as the slurry works its way through the system and breaks down.”

Anyone who spots any further signs of pollution in the river is asked to report it to the agency’s free, 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 807060.