Improving water quality

Improving water quality

We need to improve the quality of water in Wales’s rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwaters so that it meets the standards required by the EU Water Framework Directive.


How we plan to meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive

If your activity or business is likely to have an impact on the water environment, Natural Resources Wales needs to work with you. 

You can find out more about activity in your area and how to get involved in improving the water environment by visiting waterwatchwales.

Working in partnership

Natural Resources Wales has produced river basin management plans that describe the pressures facing the water environment in each of Wales’s three river basin districts.

A ‘river basin district’ is a group of catchments that contains a collection of rivers, lakes, groundwater reserves and coastal waters.

In each River Basin District we have a Liaison Panel made up of representatives of the key sectors. This provides an open forum for partners to discuss and influence the development of the River Basin management Plans and assist with implementation.  Plans are produced and updated every six years.

Improvements and benefits

Each plan outlines the actions needed to improve the water environment. They also list the benefits that can be achieved and those best placed to deliver them.

Each river basin district has a Liaison Panel made up of representatives from a cross-section of businesses and water users.

Wales's river basin districts

There are three river basin districts in Wales and each has its own river basin management plan:

  • Western Wales District – entirely in Wales
  • Dee District – cross-border with England
  • Severn District - cross-border with England (led by the Environment Agency on Gov.UK)

The Role of Local Authorities

Local Authorities have a key role in the planning, delivery and promotion of the River Basin Management Plans.

NRW have worked with the Welsh Local Government Association to produce an advice note, Local Authorities services and the water environment.

This advice note on the Water Framework Directive includes case studies which demonstrate how we can work together to deliver better “water” services to communities, as well as the wider environment.

Acidification risk assessment

Welsh rivers and lakes are still affected by acidification despite a major reduction in industrial emissions. To help us monitor and manage the issue, we have made an assessment of where acidification is still likely to be a problem in 2027.

That assessment concluded that there is evidence of a gradual recovery. However, a fifth of our rivers and a third of our lakes remain vulnerable.

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