SIX weeks after a shock report revealed the Teifi was the most polluted river in Wales, a new environmental scheme has been launched aimed at improving water quality.

The Teifi Demonstrator Catchment project is a multi-year initiative introduced by Natural Resources Wales and backed by Welsh Government.

Speaking at its launch, Minister for Climate Change Julie James said improving water quality was a complex issue.

“Our ambitions can only be realised if we have full engagement from government, regulators, and all relevant sectors in Wales working together to maximise investment and resources,” she added.

“This is why Welsh Government has been advocating for a ‘Team Wales’ approach to improving water quality. I am delighted that the Teifi Demonstrator Catchment project will build on this collaborative approach.”

Welcoming the move, local county councillor Clive Davies – Chair of the Teifi Nutrient Management Board – said: “The Teifi was chosen for this cross-sectoral collaboration project because of the excellent work of existing stakeholders such as citizens’ science groups and local authority staff.

“There will be focus on innovation on improving the river quality, bio-diversity and riparian land management, all with the aim to improving water management in the Teifi catchment.

“I look forward to seeing the impact this work will have on the Teifi which in time will be shared with those wanting to improve the rest of Wales’ rivers.”

Ms James went on to say that the Teifi – one of Wales’ nine Special Area of Conservation – was facing ‘multiple pressures’ including pollution from abandoned metal mines at the top of the catchment to pollution from wastewater assets and diffuse pollution from land run-off.

“We know from independently verified data that the leading source of phosphorus loading varies from catchment to catchment, but in six of the nine SAC catchments, the leading cause is rural land use,” she added.

“Meanwhile, the major contributor for phosphorus in the Teifi catchment is discharges from water company assets.”

“This Demonstrator Catchment Project offers an exciting opportunity for all parties to try a different approach.

“I hope we can use the work in the Teifi to develop a ‘best practice’ model which can subsequently be replicated across all of Wales’ catchments.”

Back in October data compiled by mathematician and former University College London professor Peter Hammond confirmed the Teifi had suffered a higher level of pollution than any other river in Wales.

This was the result of a ‘highly inadequate’ wastewater treatment plant situated close to the town’s cemetery which had continued discharging sewage into the Teifi despite it never having been treated.

To make matters worse, the Cardigan plant is situated just two miles from Poppit Sands, a designated bathing beach with water quality described as ‘excellent’.

After persistently denying any wrongdoing, Welsh Water finally conceded it has been polluting the Teifi with untreated raw sewage for decades.

Although NRW confirmed they had served numerous enforcement notices on the plant, no fines had been issued.