RAW sewage was pumped into Barnsley’s rivers for thousands of hours more than it was last year, shocking new figures have revealed.

Yorkshire Water release sewage when there is too much demand on their treatment works during rainy periods.

The latest data, revealed by the Environment Agency earlier this week, was taken from monitoring stations installed at combined sewer overflows.

Contained within the untreated effluent is human waste, wet wipes and sanitary products, which pose a serious risk to local wildlife.

In Barnsley, sewage spilled into the town’s rivers for well over 10,000 hours on hundreds of separate occasions.

Some of the worst-hit are Darfield and Wombwell, where sewage has leaked into numerous areas.

The Wombwell Waste Water Treatment Works, off Ings Road, discharged a total of 54 times for 564 hours into the River Dove and Bulling Dyke in 2022.

Whilst last year it spilled almost 100 times for a total of 1,340 hours, or 56 days non-stop.

It was a similar story in Darfield, where sewage leaked for hundreds of hours.

Coun Kevin Osborne, who represents the Darfield ward, told the Chronicle that ‘enough is enough’.

“These latest figures are troubling,” he said.

“Last year residents of Darfield and Low Valley saw raw, untreated sewage dumped into the River Dove and Bulling Dyke at the waste water treatment plant on Ings Road for a total of 23 days and nights.

“The release of combined sewer overflows into rivers and watercourses may be ‘legal’ but that doesn’t make it right.

“Privatised water companies may seek to shift the blame onto increased rainfall but whilst they continue to pay company directors bonuses and shareholders a dividend, residents throughout my community have to put up with them filling our waterways with sewage.

“It stinks.”

Other areas such as Darton and Lundwood - two of the town’s worst-affected areas with regards to flooding - also have shocking figures.

In Darton, one storm overflow spilled a total of 90 times - compared to last year’s 50 incidents - for a total of 1,362 hours, or about 57 days non-stop.

Meanwhile in Lundwood, an overflow also spilled a total of 90 times for a total of 1,114 hours, the equivalent of around 46 days non-stop.

This is compared to the 35 days sewage spilled last year.

In Pilley, almost 150 incidents occurred for a total of 2,135 hours whilst in Hoylandswaine and Cawthorne the sewage spilled for more than 3,000 hours combined.

Across the Yorkshire Water network, sewage spilled a total of 77,761 times for more than 500,000 hours - the equivalent of 21,516 days and the second-worst for spills across the entire country.

A spokesperson said: “We are committed to improving our region’s rivers and were disappointed about the number of discharges in 2023.

“This increase is due to the wet weather experienced in the 12-month period, which included 11 named storms.

“The weather experienced in the region in 2023 included a very wet summer and prolonged heavy rainfall towards the end of the year resulting in groundwater infiltration into the sewer network.

“Met Office statistics show 1,178mm of rainfall in our area in 2023, the highest level since 2013 and with the second half of the year one of the wettest on record.

“The Met Office named 2023 the sixth-wettest year since its records began in 1836.

“Overflows operate during prolonged or heavy rainfall and multiple storms in close succession can lead to increased discharges due to the storm capacity being used up.

“Our teams worked hard throughout 2023 to reduce discharges as part of our commitment to improve the operation of our network.

“As a result, our modelling indicates investment in our network and changes to our operations since 2021 equate to an improvement of 12,980 discharges when normalised against rainfall.

“Nevertheless, we know there is more to do, and we are making headway with a £180m programme to reduce discharges across the region by April 2025.

“Work is in progress on 62 projects, including a number in the Barnsley area, that will reduce discharges from some of the most frequently operating overflows, with more to follow later in the year.

“This is just the start of a long-term programme to reduce the impact of wastewater on the region’s watercourses and we have submitted plans to Ofwat that outline a further £1.19bn investment in overflow reduction between 2025 and 2030.”