The Current State of Welsh Rivers

Data for Wales is accessible across a number of Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales websites. We hope that the information and links on this page will explain where you need to look and go. If there are data you can’t find, please let us know and we can add it! 

Water Framework Directive Data

Where to find all the relevant data for Wales:

River Basin Management Plans

Following Brexit, Welsh Government agreed to continue their commitments to the Water Framework Directive, under a new regulation: the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2017. Natural Resources Wales is the statutory body responsible in Wales to meet the requirements of this regulation.

It requires them to publish reports called River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) every six years. These plans provide the overarching framework for water management, helping to protect and improve our water environment.

Water Watch Wales

Natural Resources Wales are legally responsible for ensuring that the monitoring and evidence is in place to understand the issues with our rivers, the actions required on those rivers and are accountable for ensuring that WFD status is maintained and improved in Wales.

All WFD data for Wales can be accessed through the Water Watch Wales website. This includes all reporting and data from the first cycle (2009-2015) right through to current understanding on our rivers.

Reasons For Not Achieving Good Status (RNAGS)

Natural Resources Wales are required to identify the reasons why waterbodies in Wales are failing to meet the required standards (RNAGS), who is responsible for that failure and the actions needed to bring all rivers to Good Ecological Status (GES). The current identified actions (under WFD only) are here.

SAC Rivers

There are nine Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) rivers in Wales which have greater protection than WFD. These nine rivers have been designated under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2019 (previously the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC) and certain elements of the Wild Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC) (known as the Nature Directives).

More information on SAC rivers can be found here.

The Water Framework Directive

There are five classification status under the WFD: High, Good, Moderate, Poor and Bad.

UKTAG is a partnership of the UK environment and conservation agencies which was set up by the UK-wide Water Framework Directive (WFD) policy group consisting of UK government administrations. It was created to provide coordinated advice on the science and technical aspects of the WFD. UKTAG defined the targets and standards to be met, in line with European targets, for the UK.

NRW currently only report rivers in Wales against their WFD standards. Some rivers (SAC rivers – see below) have more stringent standards that need to be met.

Current WFD Status in Wales 

The current reported WFD status in Wales says that 44% of rivers in Wales meet Good Ecological Status. The Regulations require all rivers in Wales to be at Good Ecological Status by 2027. 

What are Afonydd Cymrus concerns?
  • We believe that current monitoring levels in Wales are insufficient to provide the necessary evidence to understand what is wrong with our rivers.
  • NRW is heavily reliant on a risk-based approach to developing its monitoring programme. This often means that many parameters and waterbodies are not physically monitored.

Afonydd Cymru are currently investigating a number of other concerns that we have on specific failures to meet legal requirements under the Regulation.

What can you do?

Every WFD cycle, consultation takes place on what should be included within the next river basin management plans. If you care about your local river, you should get involved in the consultation and feedback what you would like to see next time!

Afonydd Cymru will update the website and communicate when Natural Resources Wales are gathering views. This process should be started next sometime in 2024.