Research & Analysis

The Teifi Estuary in a Changing Climate

This contribution comes from Tim Gwhan: The research project we undertake focusses on the core physical processes that operate within the estuary. Several of these processes are climate driven. Field observations, secondary data analysis and evidence gathered from research into the historical record reveal a compelling story of accelerating change. Inevitably, there is a range of complex contributory factors, but without doubt, climate change is a significant driver.

Further, small estuaries are poorly represented in terms of research focus. Much of what is understood is derived from research carried out on the larger estuary systems. Therefore, it is vitally important to continue to investigate the processes active within the Teifi estuary.
Important areas for future consideration should include:

  • The changes to the tidal regime as sea level rises
  • The interaction between river discharge and the tide
  • Storm surge flood risk to sensitive infrastructure within the estuary and immediately upstream of Llechryd Bridge.
  • Salt water penetration in the upper estuary
  • The residence time of fresh water discharges into the estuary.

click link: The Teifi Estuary in a Changing Climate

The Teifi Estuary Shoreline Change 1838 to 2006

A Message from Mathew Middleton a ‘lone campaigner’...

I’m writing to you on the subject of industrial water conservation in the UK, the Topic is Peak Water.

I thought you might be interested to hear from me. I wondered if you might wish to share my research in your capacity supporting campaigns concerned about water pollution and the future for our planet. I'm only an unpaid, lone campaigner, passionate about this subject trying to make a difference insociety.  

A few attachments you might find interesting to read?...

My Journal. I've prepared this for you. It's the journal of an entrepreneur, strongly felt, condensed on 5.5 pages and 18 bulletins, covering 34 years of mylife spent in practical research on the topic of water conservation. It doesn't describe everything I did, it's not a cv. I've recently contemplated the milestones: I look back and take some pride in the fact that once I created a business employing people in the pursuit of water conservation; compiling and documenting methods for hundreds of case studies, the invention of some new technologies and for thousands of industrial and commercial applications, (a drop in the ocean compared with what must be done). I'm left disappointed, I was never able to find anyone who did this work on any similar scale, despite many years trying to discover them. I guess in the end, I felt something was very wrong about this - I set out to find out why?

Dumping trade effluent, over-abstraction and the future for Welsh river's for London Consumers. A copied and pasted email exchange with the Commissioner for Future Generations Wales in response to their letter. It covers a few topics: how atrade effluent scheme in a London Borough could affect Wales, how dumping masses of trade effluent back into the river Thames could be stopped, i.e. suggesting an alternative conservation proposal which would be better anyway. Shared also in discussions with the local river campaigners who are desperately trying to stop the multi-million Teddington DRA scheme in their area.

Letter from the office for Commissioner for Wales Future Generations. I find this afairly typical deflection of the issues, i.e. water conservation is always someone else's problem to fix, but they are the only future generations' ministerial department in the UK.

How the Water Companies make a profit.  Offering a layman's explanation on how water companies make money, things to know about Capital Projects, HMRC taxbreaks, etc. It's a few pages in exchange with another river action campaign group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, (WASP), who were curious about how they make money out of these expensive water and effluent treatment schemes. 

The Ofwat Water Conservation Submission. I had a go illustrating 12 action points establishing a water conservation target for 1 billion metric tonnes watersavings. I think it gave Ofwat a bit of a shock but they did respond, and it's meant to be published next year. I found out later that any initiatives would be funded by water companies. I am left dubious about the true intentions.

Summationof my findings for 2023 - if you're interested?

We are rapidly heading into uncharted territory concerning having sufficient freshwater stocks.

We need more water, the government estimates 1.46 billion metric tonnes a year, about the same as the entire Thames river basin and tributaries. They're notsure where we will discover new sources, it doesn't sufficiently add in the net migration we are facing.

House developers are already facing challenges obtaining planning permission. Peak Water, water neutrality zones, are spreading rapidly. Relaxation of the pollution laws for housing developers won't make any difference - there's simply not enough water to go around.

Water companies want £96 billion to cover costs for increased storage, (reservoirs), abstraction and effluent treatment capacity. Their estimates aren't going to be enough, they'll demand more investment in the future.

Householdwater bills are set to rise year on year, for the next 10 years, at the fastest rate since the invention of the water meter and the great sanitation projects of the Victorian era laid down our industrial water supplies system. The gap between rich and poor grows wider.

I'm convinced of this.

There are sufficient water savings in the built environment, industrial and commercial (I&C) consumers, to cover the annual water use for every new home we need to build until 2050.

There are enough water savings to be able to cap every new home owner's water bill for the next 10 years, including every local school, care home and hospital. It's not going to need funding from the public sector, water companies, or property developers to do this.

There is enough money tied up in water conservation for us to exploit, to avoid the construction of reservoirs and ever greater river water abstraction.

If we keep expanding our infrastructure, without conserving what we have, one drought consecutively, one day in the future we will run out.

A few snippets.

"Our own (UK) densely populated country and growing population will also face these identical problems in the next couple of years. Peak Water is heading ourway." The Practical Water Conservationist.

Barcelona may need water shipped in during a record ...

"Everythingis about profits and self-enrichment". The Practical WaterConservationist.

APNews - › article ›spain-drought-catalonia-...

Great year for the Spanish pool industry | Fira de Barcelona

FiraBarcelona -› ... › PISCINA_S046


"It's time for the next generation to take over, to sort out the mess that my generation has left them to fix." The Practical Water Conservationist.

"Pollution is a symptom, it is not the cause". The Practical Water Conservationist.

Discoveries made this year.

There are more academic professionals on the Climate Emergency panel of experts for a large university, like University College London (UCL), than are practically employed in water conservation work in the UK.

To describe the water conservation industry as a cottage industry, is to place it on a far higher plinth by comparison with almost any recognised cottage industry I can think of.

I have found it extraordinary to discover environment, regulatory advisors and water companies who together are shaping national policy, possess no practical foundation in water conservation applications or knowledge of job 

The discovery to find national and community leaders, pollution and poverty action companies, charities and campaigners only complain, never provide practical solutions to water conservation or water pollution, blaming the water companiesand regulators.

I'm left wondering why we can't fix this but I don't have all the answers?


I hope this offers a contribution to your knowledge base on the subjects of industrial water conservation, water pollution and an initiative for national social employment.


Matthew Middleton

The Practical Water Conservationist

“I used to think that the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that 30 years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy. To deal with these, we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.” - Gus Speth (former US Advisor on Climate).

Some recent developments

See: An Exchange of views on Water Conservation with the Chief Executive for The Scottish Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust

Matt Browne, Policy and Advocacy Manager for the Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together 82 organisations to use their strong joint voice for the protection of nature) has stongly endorsed this letter to the Scottish Fisheries Trust. WCL are interfacing with Ofwat concerning efforts to accelerate a water conservation programme - the results for this consultation will be published in 2024. WCL represent over 80 wildlife and conservation charities in the UK including the RSPB.

A further endorsement has been received from Dr. Richard Benwell - See his correspondence is here. He is the Chief Executive of WCL (see this link). Prior to taking up this appointment Dr Benwell held a series of influential positions in the civil service, House of Commons Commission, and the environmental movement. Most recently, as policy adviser to the Secretary of State at Defra, he contributed to development of the Department's three flagship bills: the Environment Bill, the Agriculture Bill and the Fisheries Bill.


Assessment of the environmental impact of the Cardigan sewage works

Callm Firth's summary of the environmental assessment produced by consultants for DC/WW. Whilst the report does focus on water quality at Poppit West and made extensive use of modelling it did involve taking samples from local streams, the Teifi and DC/WW assetts to determine to concentrations of E-coli and I-coli from various sources. It concludes that Cardigan SwTW is a minor contributor to E-coli and I-coli pollutants at Poppit West, the Afon Teifi being the main source with local streams also important.  

It is noteworthy that Cardigan Pumping Station contributes more than the sewage work but this may be because it spills when the SwTW can not process the sewage rapidly when saline intrusion occurs.  

The report does not assess any broader environmental impacts other than bathing water quality but the relative importance of the sources of the pollution would not change. 

Summary of Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water Environmental Assessment Report

Report Title – PR14 Q Environmental Quality – Coastal Investigations: Compliance Assessment – Poppit West

The  report is focused on assessing the bathing water quality at Poppit West and in particular trying to assess the source of potential pollutants that may impact the beach.

Geography & Catchment Area

The report notes that a model of coastal circulation already exists and that Poppit West is unlikely to be impacted by microbial pollutants from sites  to the west. It notes that data from Aberporth weather station was used to assess rainfall for the Teifi estuary and that 32 DC?WW assets in the lower Teifi region were considered in the analysis.

Historical Performance

The microbiological water quality of the designated bathing waters is measured during the bathing season for Intestinal enterococci (IE) and Escherichia coli (EC – E-coli). The data has no statistical trend but a scatter of high concentrations reduced after 2012. In 2014 1nd 2016 all IE and EC readings were excellent whilst in 2016 two EC reading was rated as good and one failed. 

Potential Sources of Microbiological Contaminants

Sources of pollution were identified and modelled for dry and wet weather with samples collected from sewage treatment plants in the area to determine concentrations. The importance of each DC/WW asset was assessed. The contribution of rivers and streams was also assessed with samples being collected in both wet and dry weather. Other sources include the Patch Caravan Park, bird populations.

The loads from the various sources were modelled and they indicated that the river was the main source of IE and EC under both wet and dry conditions. Other local streams were significant sources of IE and EC. Cardigan Pumping Station was the most significant DW/WW asset (7-8%) whilst Cardigan WWTW contributed about 2-5.5% of the microbial material.

Performance of Cardigan WwTW

The performance of Cardigan WwTW was modelled under three different senarios. The model was validated by using historical data (e.g. the model was adjusted so that it reproduced the historical data). The impact of the SwTW was also assessed if its performance was improved. The model was also assessed by looking at how water quality would change if annual rainfall increased by 20% as a result of climate change.

The models indicated that Cardigan WwTW only contributes about 1% of the EC/IE load at Poppit West. The main source is the Afon Teifi and other local streams. The most significant DC/WW asset is the Cardigan Pumping station. – It does however need to be remembered that the pumping station spills because the Cardigan WwTW capacity to treat sewage is reduced when tidal levels are high.

The modelling also indicates that water quality at Poppit west will be lower during wet bathing seasons. So 2023 should have been a poor year, given the volume of summer rain.



From the results and analysis of this assessment, the following observations and conclusions can be made:

  • The BW data shows that Poppit West BW achieved Good classification up until 2014, and then improved to Excellent in 2015 and 2016.
  • Poppit West BW is predicted by S-O to achieve Good classification for EC and Excellent classification for IE, under the baseline scenario (current conditions over a ten-year period).
  • The main contributors to the total microbial impact at Poppit West BW are diffuse river sources, in particular the Afon Teifi (EC and IE).
  • The BW performance at Poppit West BW is sensitive to river loads, with the predicted classification reducing to Poor (EC and IE) when river loads are increased by a factor of ten.
  • DCWW assets have limited impact on Poppit West BW microbial water quality, in either the Baseline or Solution scenarios for EC or IE. The biggest contributing DCWW asset is the Cardigan No 2.5 SPS Storm overflow.
  • The Cardigan WwTW microbial load does not contribute significantly to the water quality of Poppit West BW and improvement in the operational performance of the Cardigan WwTW would not significantly improve the water quality at Poppit West BW.

See the full report on this link. Full Assessment Report