Clean dishes and conscience

Llyn Padarn is being given a helping hand by Llanberis hotel owner Heidi Petch-Jones, from Gallt y Glyn, as she switches to a phosphate-free dishwasher detergent. Heidi and her team are testing a range of phosphate-free detergents for the ‘Loving our Lake’ project.

In 2009, the lake suffered from a toxic algal bloom and people were advised to avoid using the lake for much of the summer. The bloom was caused by a combination of weather conditions and nutrients such as phosphorus entering the lake. These nutrients can come from a number of sources including wastewater from households and businesses.

Recently Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has announced a £15m project to upgrade the local pumping station and install a 5km (3 mile) pipeline to divert all waste water discharges away from Llyn Padarn to a new sewage treatment works in Brynrefail. It is expected to take 3 years to complete diverting all waste water discharges away from Llyn Padarn.

“Many businesses in Llanberis are closely linked to the well-being of the lake. At the moment our behaviour could have an impact on the health of the lake. Phosphates in dishwasher tablets and detergents are a problem now and we want to encourage local businesses and residents in the Llanberis valley to switch to a phosphate-free product. Using phosphate-free products will always be better for the environment,” said Dr Emma Edwards-Jones, ‘Loving our Lake’ Project Manager.

Most dishwasher detergents contain at least 30% phosphates to help wash glasses and dishes. “We have used a leading brand of detergent in our glass-washing machine and dishwasher. You use a leading brand because it guarantees great results, but I am not convinced, so I am happy to try another product,” said Heidi Petch-Jones, Gallt y Glyn. Phosphate-free products contain natural ingredients which clean effectively and then fully biodegrade.

The ‘Loving our Lake’ project has the backing of Environment Agency Wales and is supported by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water. It has been developed and will be delivered by Snowdonia-Active, a social enterprise based in Caban, Brynrefail.

“We will start to use the new product straightaway and I will feed back how clean our glassware, crockery and cutlery are in comparison to using the leading brand of detergent containing phosphates. If phosphates are a problem for Llyn Padarn, I am happy to make this simple change to help protect the lake,” said Heidi.

In addition to Emma talking to residents and businesses in Nant Peris, Llanberis and Fachwen to raise awareness and spread the word. This website contains details of how residents and businesses can make simple changes to make a big difference.