Development of a demonstrator catchment project for the Teifi.

Following the First Minister’s Summit on Water Quality, the first meeting to co-develop a demonstrator catchment project for the River Teifi will take place in Llechryd on 24th November 2023. Within the summit it was specifically asked that the project should pursue integrated catchment approaches to form a multisector co-operation and adopt nature based solutions.

The Afon Teifi catchment was selected because it offers a diverse landscape with varied river waterbodies. Agriculture and forestry account for the majority of land usage and there is a legacy of historic metal mining. Due to its important biological features the Afon Teifi and ten of its tributaries are a SAC and SSSI. Currently the Teifi SAC catchment is failing with discharges from Water Company assets a significant contributor to poor water quality. Additionally recent research has shown that salmonid fish stocks are in very rapid decline with modelling predicting extinction of this species within the next 10 years.

The first meeting will consider how all parties can jointly progress a suite of actions to achieve improved water quality in the catchment, whilst also encouraging secondary benefits for improved climate resilience and enhanced biodiversity.

Phase 1 – Project development and outline business case, stakeholder consultation, evidence evaluation 0- 6 months

Phase 2 - Project delivery, evaluation and delivery of evidence for catchment approach to improving water quality 7- 60 months

click link: Draft Teifi Catchment Proposal

First Meeting Report: Tackling the Teifi  on 24 Nov 2023

Landowners, industries and regulators join forces for pilot ‘demonstrator catchment’ project

This initial stakeholder event was the first big step to kickstart the project and an important opportunity to review the work which is already underway, and which has been tried and tested previously. During the meeting we discussed setting a clear set of objectives and a timeline to hold the project accountable. We considered the challenges and pressures within the catchment, including the current SAC river planning constraints and how behaviour change will be key to success. Monitoring came out as a strong theme, with the agreement that we need to have a clear baseline from which to monitor improvement over time. An action was taken to review current sources of monitoring data to identify gaps and where enhanced water quality monitoring may be required, and to consider how citizen science may be utilised to do this. We discussed how we can add value to existing work programmes, and how the project presents an opportunity to be more experimental and innovative in our approaches, perhaps using NRWs own experimental power. The possibility of the project drawing down additional funding to develop and deliver these actions on the ground was also considered. Lastly, we discussed the need to engage effectively with stakeholders including communicating clearly as our plans develop and progress during the life of the project. We appreciate and welcome the intensity of public feeling about our rivers and we wish to involve the local community in this project. We had some great feedback from the event, including from the Save the Teifi Community group. They told us, “We believe that establishing the Teifi demonstrator project is a major step forward not just for the Teifi but for all the rivers in Wales. We look forward to working with stakeholders and other community groups to restore the river for the benefit of nature and society.”

Link: Natural Resources Wales / Tackling the Teifi – landowners, industries and regulators join forces for pilot ‘demonstrator catchment’ project

Meeting Presentations

Sir David Henshaw who chaired the meeting had the presentations distributed to us via Callum with the following message: 

"Many thanks for attending the Teifi Demonstrator stakeholder event last week on Friday in Lampeter.  As promised, please find attached copies of the slides that were presented on the day, which I hope you agree generated a really productive discussion on the scope of this exciting project and the ways in which we can better work together to deliver improvements in the catchment.  It was heartening to hear such support and commitment from all sectors and partners present.


This week Julie James, Minister for Climate Change issued a statement on the project Written Statement: Launch of the ‘Teifi Demonstrator Catchment’ project (27 November 2023) and NRW have issued a blog on our website and on social media (see Natural Resources Wales / Tackling the River Teifi – landowners, industries and regulators join forces for pilot 'demonstration catchment' project).


Yesterday, I attended the First Minister’s third River Pollution Summit where I provided an update on the Teifi Demonstrator project and last week’s stakeholder event.  There was wide support for the project from many including the Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, who was Chairing the session.


We will continue to engage with you as the project develops and would appreciate your continued support for the hackathon planned to run early next year.  There were several initiatives suggested on the day that our Teifi Demonstrator Project Manager will follow up on and will be in touch with your organisation to progress. 

1. NRW: Why the Teifi

2. NRW: Current Status of the Teifi

3. NRW: Projects and Interventions on the Teifi

4. WW/DC: Investment Plans for the Teifi

5. Save the Teifi

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Application for funds to Ofwat for funds for the Demonstrator project on the Teifi.

NRW as the lead on the Demonstrator project are applying for £2million over the next 5 years from the Ofwat Innovation Fund to improve water quality in the Teifi catchment, whilst encouraging climate resilience and enhanced biodiversity in line with the sustainable management of natural resources principles. It is intended to be a project that will collaboratively adopt innovative and agile regulatory and evidence communication approaches to support a range of interventions, capturing the learning and managing it in an agile way so it can be scaled up and out across Wales and England bringing multiple benefits to other river systems. 

The project aim is to develop new regulatory and other ways of working which achieve improved water quality in the catchment, whilst also encouraging secondary benefits for improved climate resilience and enhanced biodiversity. Once this evidence has been collected, analysed and interpreted it will be widely and easily available on multiple platforms enabling the findings to be applied across Wales and/or inspire application elsewhere. Currently the Teifi Special Area of Conservation (SAC) catchment is failing to achieve the water quality standards required for both WFDR good ecological status and HDR favourable condition. Recent source apportionment modelling indicates that discharges from Water Company assets are a significant contributor to phosphate failure. Other significant issues include acidification, historic metal mine pollution, and diffuse pollution from agriculture and forestry activities.

The Initial outcomes, subject to evolution with stakeholders and to reflect evidence as it emerges are:

  1. Nutrient Source Apportionment Teifi model (by end 2025): promoting better understanding of the distribution of rural land-use sources of phosphate and nitrate.
  2. Innovative data collection approach (by end 2025): to improve collective understanding of water quality throughout the catchment, and enable targeted interventions and accurate impact assessment.
  3. Survey and mapping (by end 2025): of river habitat quality using citizen science. Shared data will benefit all partners, enabling better understanding of habitats and how interventions and restoration can be targeted.
  4. Visualisation of catchment data (by end 2026): Making shared data easily accessible and visual will benefit all partners and aid positive behavioural change.
  5. Novel nature-based solutions (by Aug 2029) for improving water quality and climate resilience.
  6. Develop Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) Optional and Collaborative actions (by end 2026): piloting actions will allow higher risk approaches to be tested before becoming part of the scheme across Wales.
  7. Catchment-based soil sampling and analysis programme (by end 2025), to enable Teifi farmers to optimise crop nutrient applications and minimise nutrient loss.
  8. Create run-off risk maps using LiDAR and soil surveys (by end 2025) to inform potential interventions at farm scale.
  9. Reduce diffuse pollution (by Aug 2029) through introduction on farm measures such as buffers, biobeds, sediment traps, run-off detention features, riparian woodland and wetlands.
  10. Capture land-use behaviour and changes (by Aug 2029): Sharing of data / learning will allow better understanding of successful approaches that can be scaled up in other catchments.
  11. Trial Experimental regulation (by Aug 2029): develop and test different approaches e.g., seasonal permits and regulating experimental treatments to allow risks to minimised by piloting the approach.

SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) version of objectives

  1. Nutrient Source Apportionment (by end 2025): Collaboratively review and update catchment phosphate modelling to include nitrate.
  2. Innovative data collection approach (by end 2025): link up with academia and industry as well as Nutrient Management Board partners, develop new approaches, technology and ways of sharing data.
  3. Survey and mapping (by end 2025): of river habitat quality for the catchment. Work with partners and communities to develop and deliver this project via citizen science.
  4. Visualisation of catchment data (by end 2026): combine evidence products to create opportunity and vulnerability maps, post real-time data from sensor network.
  5. Novel nature-based solutions (by end 2027) for improve water quality and climate resilience. Realise opportunities to work with partners holdings.
  6. Develop Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) Optional and Collaborative actions (by end 2025): Work with Welsh Government, farming unions and other farming networks to develop and pilot scheme actions.
  7. Catchment-based soil sampling and analysis programme (by end 2025): collaborate with partners to commission industry to provide service.
  8. Create run-off risk maps use LiDAR and soil surveys (by end 2025): agree scope and commission delivery.
  9. Reduce diffuse pollution (by end 2029): introduce on farm measures and assess impact.
  10. Capture land-use behaviour and changes (by Aug 2029): survey data aligned to interventions is collected and evaluated.
  11. Experimental regulation (by end 2027): novel approaches are tried and assessed.

Longer-term impacts and benefits expected from the project for the water sector in England and Wales

  • Experimental regulation: NRW will consider different regulatory approaches which may include using experimental regulatory powers to develop new tools and approaches relevant and effective for the control of diffuse pollution. These innovations will be monitored and evaluated for use elsewhere in Wales and the UK
  • Improvement in water quality: changes in land-use and the implementation of interventions to reduce diffuse pollution will not immediately result in improvement in WFDR status in the Teifi catchment but continue to improve over the medium to longer term.
  • Behavioural changes: the movement in identities, beliefs and behaviours which come about as a result of this project will need to continue to shift before water pollution mitigation behaviour becomes embedded.
  • Upscaling: the learning from this project will be measured, captured, and disseminated so that successful actions can be replicated in other catchments across Wales and England.
  • Reduced stakeholder negativity and increased collective understanding by jointly sharing the problems and solutions and maintaining data, evidence, and decision-making transparency.

Significant external risks and how they have been considered and addressed

  1. Welsh Government support for Nutrient Trading and ecosystems service stacking does not materialise, or the ‘rules of enagement’ cannot be agreed by all parties, undermining this element of the proposal. The subject of a task and finish group set up under the First Minister’s River Pollution Summit, we anticipate support to be formalised in 2024.
  2. Welsh Government support and funding for a environmental data hub is reduced, putting pressure on other partners to fund such an initiative. Currently funding to assess the feasilibilty has been confirmed but further funding yet to be approved.
  3. The new funding arrangements for farming (SFS) is further delayed beyond 2025, and we are unable to leverage the changes driven by the SFS to compliment novel approaches and regulatory initiatives through the project. Welsh legislation requires commencement in 2025.
  4. Support for the development of controls at source such as to improve diffuse pollution from highways is not forthcomming due to government funding constraints. A live risk, as funding for imorvements to such diffuse sources is not currently available.
  5. Failure to deliver – delays in getting environmental consents/permissions e.g. for working on protected sites/protected species. Early identification of consents/permissions required and timetabled within project timeline to allow adequate time for processing.
  6. New legal approaches are not possible – our initial work suggests this is not the case and we can consider using experimental powers in specific circumstances.
  7. Stakeholder disengagement – regular engagement, effective communication and the co-produced approach to the development of the project should mitigate this risk.
  8. Equipment malfunction – majority of the equipment has been used in the field already and we are familiar with it operation and maintenance but some novel equipment may be unproven.
  9. Cyber attack – NRW has strong and secure systems. We have learned from the attack on SEPA and improved security across our ICT systems and devices.
  10. Staff recruitment – not recruiting staff the to the required capacity and capability. By project start NRW will have a flexible resource pool. This project and broader water quality is a priority within the organisation so staff will be transferred across should the need arise.

How the Project came about and who's involved

The Teifi Demonstrator project emerged from the Welsh First Minister’s River Pollution Summits (see, which have brought together senior representatives from regulators, water companies, developers, local government, farming unions, academia, and environmental bodies to develop a strategic and joined-up approach to tackling phosphorus pollution. A stakeholder event in November 2023 was attended by senior representatives from the entry partners.

Those involved to date include:

Aberystwyth University:

  • Professor Rhys Jones, NRW Board Member

Afonydd Cymru:

  • Gail Davies-Walsh, CEO

Carmarthenshire Council:

  • Cllr Ann Davies
  • Ian Llewelyn, Strategic Policy & Placemaking Manager
  • Gail Pearce-Taylor, NMBs Programme Lead


  • Jenny Suggate, Interim Director of Policy, Research & Campaigns
  • Lia Moutselou, Senior Policy Lead Wales

Ceredigion Council:

  • Cllr Clive Davies
  • Rhodri Llwyd, Corporate Lead Officer, Highways & Environment Services
  • Sarah Groves-Phillips, Planning Policy Manager

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water:

  • Alastair Lyons, Chair
  • Peter Perry, CEO
  • Prof Tony Harrington, Director of Environment

Farming Union of Wales:

  • Gareth Parry, Senior Policy and Communications Officer
  • Anwen Hughes, Regional Vice Presidents
  • Mari Davies, Ceredigion Deputy County Executive Officer

Hafren Dyfrwydwy:

  • James Jesic, CEO

Keep Wales Tidy:

  • Owen Derbyshire, CEO

National Farming Union Cymru:

  • Rachel Lewis-Davies, Environment and Land Use Adviser
  • Aled Davies, County Adviser for Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire

Natural Resources Wales:

  • Sir David Henshaw, Chair
  • Chris Collins, Head of Knowledge and Evidence
  • Jon Goldsworthy, Teifi Demonstrator Project Manager

Pembrokeshire Council:

  • Cllr Jon Harvey
  • Bob Smith, Development Plans Manager

Save the Teifi:

  • Callum Firth, Chair

Welsh Government:

  • Eifiona Williams, Head of Water Branch
  • James Dowling, Water Quality Programme Lead

West Wales Rivers Trust:

  • Harriet Alvis, CEO

click link: Draft Fund Application Form