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Nearly £10m of capital funding will be used in 2020-21 to improve water quality across Wales and also tackle water pollution issues from abandoned metal mines.

First published:
2 July 2020
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Over £5m will be allocated to a series of projects, working with partner organisations to improve water quality across Wales, including:

Nature Recovery Action Plan (£1.115m) –NRW will work with partners including Afonydd Cymru on measures for salmon and trout in Welsh waterways to restore fish habitat and improve breeding distribution;
Rural Development Plan (RDP), Glastir Small Grant Scheme (£1.5m) – match funding for a specific grant focusing on improving water quality;
Natural Flood Management Programme (£1m) – contribution to a dedicated scheme at catchment level combined with water quality improvement measures, to achieve both reduction in flood risk and improving water quality;
NRW Water Quality Improvement Projects (£802,000) – NRW will work with partners on 15 smaller scale projects to tackle areas affected by increased levels of pollutants, such as Phosphate and improve marine biodiversity; and
Research & Development (R&D) Projects (£1m) – the project will develop effective innovative solutions to minimise the long-term impact of metal mine water discharges, improve the ecological status of Welsh rivers and support a healthy farming industry. This includes innovative projects such as Coleg Sir Gar’s Gelli Aur Sustainable Farming Centre.

The Gelli Aur Sustainable Farming Centre aims to become a knowledge centre for the farming community, developing alternative systems for water and slurry management suitable for on farm use. The project will be led by Coleg Sir Gar in collaboration with NRW, Welsh Water, AHDB, Farming Connect and the farming unions.

In addition, NRW will receive £4.5m for a metal mine remediation programme, focusing on the most polluting abandoned mines to tackle water pollution issues.

Abandoned Metal Mines are one of the principal causes of failures of Water standards in Wales. Discharges from underground workings and leaching of metals from spoil heaps present significant sources of water pollution today, causing iron, zinc, lead and cadmium failures. 

There are 1,300 abandoned metal mines in Wales that have been estimated to impact over 600km of river reaches.

The funding was agreed as part of the Welsh Government 2020-21 Budget.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:

We are determined to improve our water quality across Wales and tackle the very real problem of pollution in our waterways, in particular from abandoned metal mines. This significant package of funding will enable a number of innovative projects to get underway to do just that.

By working together, with partner organisations and the farming sector, we can make a real difference to our waters and ecosystems both today and as we work towards a green recovery post-Covid19.

Ceri Davies, Executive Director for Evidence, Planning and Permitting said:

Our rivers, lakes and streams are an iconic part of the Welsh landscape they provide us with vital resources including drinking water, a habitat for wildlife and supply of water for business use and recreation opportunities.

Like many of our natural resources our waterways are under pressure from the way we use and interact with these resources both past and present, and this funding will mean that we can take action now to further improve water quality for generations to come.