A young woman was left fighting for her life after swimming in sewage-filled waters off the Pembrokeshire coast.

Caitlin Edwards, 22, contracted E.coli after swimming near Amroth Beach last summer.

She was subsequently diagnosed with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a rare kidney condition that affects the blood clotting functions of those infected.

Her mother, Jayne Etherington, said that it had been “absolutely horrendous” to watch her daughter’s five-month battle with the condition.

She has expressed anger about how untreated sewage could have entered the sea at Wiseman’s Bridge, which is just a few hundred metres from Amroth Beach, on Aug 24 last year.

At the time, it was reported that storm sewage had been discharged at four Welsh beaches, with storm overflows blamed for the issue.

“We were allowed to believe it was a CSO [combined sewer overflow] spill,” said Ms Etherington. “No one said: ‘This is something more serious.’”

According to a Welsh Water spokesman, the Wiseman’s Bridge spill was from a private source and was not related to Welsh Water. 

Signs were placed on the beach to warn people not to swim at the time and both Pembrokeshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said they were investigating the incident.

Ms Edwards was not aware of the spill and swam with her mother, as they had made a pact they would swim together every day before she headed back to university. 

After she left home in Pembrokeshire to stay with her boyfriend in London, she began to have severe stomach cramps and diarrhoea.

She checked herself into accident and emergency after five days and was diagnosed with E. coli and HUS.

“By the time they phoned me, she was in resus,” said Ms Etherington.

“She’d gone from a happy, healthy, vibrant 22-year-old to looking like she was going to die. 

“We didn’t know she wasn’t. It was horrendous.”

Nicola Mills, the environment team leader for NRW, said the investigation into the spill found “the effluent discharge was due to a private discharge point failure.”

She added: “The owners of the private discharge point acted immediately to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Our officers have visited the area since and there have been no further concerns witnessed or reported.

“Around the same time there was also an ongoing CSO discharge, therefore it was not possible to pinpoint sole responsibility for the failure of bathing water sampling at Wiseman’s Bridge.”

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/09/03/amroth-beach-pembrokeshire-sewage-caitlin-edwards/