Water companies and regulators to be grilled on water quality in Wales by MPs
The Welsh Affairs Committee will be hearing from the regulators of water and water companies in Wales, in the second of its evidence sessions examining water quality in Wales.
The Committee has heard that around a third of all rivers in Wales fail to meet targets on levels of phosphorus, while five of nine Welsh rivers designated as Special Areas of Conservation are failing on phosphorus and excessive nutrients.
Only 40% of rivers in Wales currently meet the criteria for good ecological status.
Two panels will be held, focusing predominantly on sewage discharges and pollution.
In the first panel, MPs will explore how regulators can better enforce existing regulations and what needs to happen to improve water quality.
Members of the Committee are likely to ask Ofwat and Natural Resources Wales to set out what steps they are taking to tackle sewage discharges and pollution, as well as to give their views on the potential for harsher penalties for serious pollution incidents.
The Committee will then turn to Wales’ two water companies, Dŵr Cymru (Welsh Water), which serves the majority of Wales, and smaller firm Hafren Dyfrdwy.
MPs are likely to press water companies on what action they are taking on water quality. Questions likely to arise include whether targeted investments to improve water quality are planned, given increases in combined water and sewage bills for Welsh billpayers announced in February 2023.
There have been calls for Welsh Water to stop dumping sewage in the River Dee.
Chester Zoo CEO, Jamie Christon, wrote to Welsh Water, calling for an end to the “unacceptable discharge” of sewage into the River Dee.
The discharge is posing a significant threat to wildlife, including the Scarce Yellow Sally Stonefly, a critically endangered insect species which is only found in the river and was rediscovered in the UK in 2017.
Sewage discharges also pose an ongoing threat to declining bird species such as the redshank, curlew, black-tailed godwit and pintail.
Water quality in Wales
Wednesday 15 March at 10.00, Committee Room 5
- David Black, Chief Executive, Ofwat
- Ceri Davies, Executive Director of Evidence, Policy and Permitting, Natural Resources Wales
- Steve Wilson, Managing Director of Wastewater Services, Business Customers and Energy, Dŵr Cymru
- Jason Rogers, Head of Water Quality and Environment, Hafren Dyfrdwy
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