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New board established to improve water quality in the Cleddau

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is to lead a group committed to action on river phosphates in the Cleddau.

The river Cleddau is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), protected for its national and international significance for wildlife. 

The river is home to otters, bullhead (a small freshwater fish), brook lamprey and river lamprey (primitive, eel-like fish).

But water quality is putting these species at risk, as excessive phosphorus levels are destroying its precious ecosystem.

Phosphates enter waterways from human and animal waste, laundry, cleaning, industrial chemicals, and fertiliser run-off.

They cause explosive growth of aquatic plants and algae which can lead to low oxygen levels, essentially suffocating the river and the life that calls it home.

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Of 107 water bodies assessed by Natural Resources Wales, only 39% passed the new phosphorus targets and 61% failed.

Most of the failing water bodies were in Mid and South Wales. This includes the Cleddau, which had a failure rate of 88%.  

Action must be taken urgently, and at a large scale, and so Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire County Councils have worked collaboratively to start and manage Nutrient Management Boards to monitor the Cleddau, Teifi and Tywi.

They will be working together closely to deliver the action needed for the rivers.

The boards comprise the local authorities and National Parks which the rivers pass through.

Their role is to identify and deliver a Nutrient Management Plan and actions to achieve the conservation targets defined by Natural Resources Wales.

Each board will set out a timetable with responsibility and accountability of measurable actions assigned to board members. The delivery plan will include details of engagement with stakeholders, including methods for community involvement, to further the objectives of the plan.

The boards will be supported by input from a technical group and a stakeholder group to help inform their decisions. Membership of these groups are open to organisations and individuals with an interest in restoring river health.

The first meeting of all three boards is taking place today (March 17).

It is hoped that bringing together key players from along the length of the river to commit to action will turn the tide and restore health to the river and the life within.