The Better River Quality Taskforce brings regulators, government and water companies together to improve river water quality.
The Welsh Government Programme for Government (2021-2026) sets out the vision and ambition to address the climate and nature emergency. It commits to ensuring that nature and the climate are on the agenda of every public service and private sector business. This requires the integrated management of natural resources to maximise economic and social benefits in an equitable way while protecting all ecosystems and the environment.
A thriving water environment is essential for supporting healthy communities, flourishing businesses, and biodiversity. We must act now to ensure that the sustainable management of our water environment benefits the people and communities of Wales today and for future generations.
The Better River Quality Taskforce
Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Government, Ofwat, Dŵr Cymru and Hafren Dyfrdwy (the partner organisations) recognise this need for action and have established a Better River Quality Taskforce (the taskforce) to evaluate the current approach to the management and regulation of overflows in Wales and to set out detailed plans to drive rapid change and improvement. Afonydd Cymru and Consumer Council for Water are providing independent advice to the taskforce, offering insight and challenge from a stakeholder and customer perspective.
In order to drive our action to achieve a rapid change and improvement to the management and environmental regulation of overflows in Wales we want to:
- Deliver seamless support to Welsh Government to achieve their nature and climate change ambitions
- Reduce the adverse impact of any overflow discharges on the environment by targeting investment and taking regulatory action where required to deliver improvements
- Work to develop the existing regulatory framework to ensure water and wastewater companies effectively manage and operate their network of sewers. Regulators will use their existing powers to drive the right outcomes and hold companies to account.
- Gather greater evidence of the impact on our rivers through improved monitoring of both the discharge and the receiving water and, through this, drive towards truly smart networks making best use of technology and real time control.
- Work with customers to tackle sewer misuse.
- Work with the public and stakeholders to improve the understanding and role of overflows in Wales
Outcomes and timelines
Whilst there is work already in progress to improve overflows in Wales, the Taskforce has identified 5 areas for change and improvement, detailed below, where additional action is required in order to drive rapid change, improvement and investment to meet our goals.
- By 5th July 2022 the Taskforce will publish a set of action plans for storm overflows in conjunction with our wider River Basin Plans.
- This roadmap will be informed by 5 detailed action plans that are currently being developed by the relevant Taskforce member(s).
- These plans set out clear objectives and measurable outcomes for delivering improvements to overflow management from the immediate through to the long term.
The taskforce reports to senior directors from Welsh Government, Ofwat, NRW and water companies.
- The Taskforce will meet fortnightly, with exact frequency and timings of meetings at the discretion of the Chairperson in consultation with the group members.
- Oversight for the delivery of the roadmap will lie with the Taskforce, with accountability for delivering individual/specific actions lying with the appropriate Taskforce member(s). All relevant stakeholders will be brought in to assist where appropriate.
Stakeholders, observers, and advisers
- The chairperson can invite observers and advisers to join specific meetings as needed.
- The taskforce will engage collaboratively with relevant stakeholders to consider their views