Divers at Ras il-Ħobż in Gozo, close to Mġarr ix-Xini, were met with thick sewage pouring into the sea for five hours on Sunday, the latest in a series of incidents which have continued for four years without an apparent solution.

Mike Bugeja said he had taken a group of divers to the area, which is close to a sewage treatment plant, only to find an unbearable smell and water so clouded by the outflow that they were unable to see each other.

“The drainage was escaping from one of three square concrete structures on the upper car park and flowing rapidly down the road into the salt pans below and then into the sea,” Mr Bugeja said.

“The dirty, brown, watery sludge stank, and was everywhere. An environmental disaster for the many species of fish life and a known area for seahorses. This also could be a health issue to bathers, divers and dog walkers.”

Mr Bugeja said he had written to the authorities over the matter and intended to follow up until a solution to the long-standing problem was found. This is the second time this year the same diver has flagged the issue at Ras il-Ħobż.

In a statement, the Water Services Corporation said it was aware of the problem and working to find a solution.

“Agricultural sewage appears to have caused a blockage in some mains and filters at the treatment plant,” a spokesman said.

“We are in direct contact with the Environment Ministry to find a sustainable and effective solution to the problem, which has been building up over a number of years.”

This newspaper first reported on the problem as far back as October 2013, with divers reporting a plume of thick waste spewing out of a broken underwater pipe.

While the area is well beyond the authorised bathing zone, hordes of divers flock to the sheltered coastal stretch, which is famed for its three scuttled wrecks and an old anchor.

In 2014, a WSC source said that the outflow had occasionally appeared murkier, because large deposits of farming water would overwhelm the filtration process, but the situation was in line with EU regulations and posed no environmental risk.

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