The Environment Agency has issued advice to RHS Garden Harlow Carr about the actions it “must consider” taking to improve the quality of water that it discharges to Oak Beck.
A concerned Harrogate resident reported the issue to the agency, who said he could smell raw sewage from a long distance away, and raised fears about pollution of the water.
In a statement, the Environment Agency said: “We have investigated water quality in Oak Beck following a report by a member of the public about pollution.
“Our inspection of the Beck, along with the results of samples taken do not reveal evidence of any significant impact on water quality.
“However, we did detect periodic sewage odours in the vicinity of an outfall used by RHS Harlow Carr to discharge treated effluent to the Beck under consent. We have since advised Harlow Carr about the actions it must consider to improve the quality of water it discharges to the Beck.”
The head of RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Liz Thwaite, said: “We have had a small waste treatment plant at Harlow Carr for several years, which deals with the toilets near the Bath House via the Oak Beck stream.
“This is a safe and common way of dealing with small amounts of waste under government guidelines and we are licensed to do so by the Environment Agency.
“We are pleased that the inspection did not reveal evidence of any significant impact on water quality. However, we are still consulting with experts to ensure that the plant is providing the best service possible.
“With regard to the agency noting sewage odours in the vicinity of the outfall, we will be investigating this but want to point out that it is very near to a naturally odorous sulphur spring, very common throughout Harrogate.”
“Safeguarding our local environment is a key priority, so in the longer term we are also looking to see if other or better methods of disposing of this waste are possible.” The statement added that the variety of wildlife that can be found highlights the good health of the stream."
The concerned resident who reported the issue to the Environment Agency, said: "I saw a group of tourists coming walking along the path, presumably going for a walk after visiting the gardens. They mentioned the smell - what sort of an advert is this for Harroagte countryside and for Harlow Carr itself?"