Raw sewage poured into Newport Canal this afternoon after drains failed to cope with heavy storms which hit the town.
The contaminated water streamed into the canal out of two manhole covers underneath the bridge in Lower Bar last night. And there are fears the sewage could pose a health risk for the population of about 18 swans who live on the canal and the hundreds of fish in it.
Workmen from Severn Trent Water were this afternoon starting a clean-up operation and a temporary dam has been put in place to stop sewage spreading any further.
An investigation has also been launched to discover the cause of a blockage in the drainage system.
Alan Evans, the water bailiff for the Honeysuckle stretch of the canal, said: “There was a heavy storm last night and it was coming out like a fountain. The sewage ran onto the footpath and then into the canal.
“I think it’s dreadful. The smell is terrible and the affect it will have on wildlife doesn’t bear thinking about.
“I think it will kill virtually all of the animals. It’s just raw sewage.
“The canal looks grey. There’s hundreds of fish in there.”
Mr Evans said he believed the incident was further proof that Newport does not have the infrastructure to cope with a proposed 1,000 new houses in the area.
A spokeswoman for Severn Trent Water said: “We were alerted to a pollution at Newport this morning. We immediately sent out a crew to investigate.
“A blockage in the sewer caused the pollution. This has now been cleared and a tanker is on its way to remove any remaining pollution.
“We would like to apologise to anyone concerned about this incident and we would like to assure everyone we are doing everything that we can to get it cleaned up as quickly as possible.”
She said a full investigation would take place to find the cause of the blockage.