High quality Water environments
Water is the most fundamental substance associated with human and planetary health. It is the lifeblood that supports all plant and animal life on Earth as well as our key systems, such as food production, industry and sanitation.
Water as a resource is being utilised at an unsustainable rate. It is estimated that by 2050 about half a billion people are likely to be subject to water stress. This includes us here in Bannau Brycheiniog, and the wider catchments our water resources serve. 50% of Dwr Cymru Welsh Water’s water abstracted on a daily basis comes from within our boundary.
In 2021, the Stockholm Resilience Centre published new data looking at ‘green water’, which is the water that is embedded within soil and atmosphere and fundamental to safeguarding the functioning of planetary systems. Their assessment found that as a total global human race, we were using this resource at a rate and scale that is unsustainable and potentially threatening to our planetary stability, or our ability to maintain exploitation at current levels. They urged a new research agenda to determine both the threat that our use of water systems causes and a means of mitigating and adapting to changing availability within a changing climate.
It is not just water quantity that is under threat, very sadly there is both global and local data demonstrating that our water environments are being damaged through human impacts. Our activity is adding excess nutrients, chemicals, heavy metals and plastics into these vital systems. Globally 35% of our wetlands have disappeared since 1970, leading to a decline in 83% of freshwater species.
Here in the National Park, the same threats are observed. Rivers and wetlands are the most ecologically important features of the National Park. They are an important part of our historic and cultural environment, providing extensive health and well-being benefits. However, they are also the most threatened environment and resource we have. A range of compounding impacts has breached tipping points, meaning that self-regulating natural processes essential to the quality and quantity of water environments, can no longer properly function. This is particularly true in relation to phosphate levels which at the time of writing are so significant that there is a need for fundamental change in land management practice and water treatment.
This Plan’s ambitions for water quality, quantity and water environments are intended to ensure that this essential and life-giving resource is protected for the benefit of future generations. We will work across organisations, eNGOs, citizens groups and statutory bodies to ensure we can protect this resource for the future.
Water is the fountain of life, it is our most valuable resource and our most vulnerable.
The communities of Bannau Brycheiniog have interacted with our water systems and the blue landscape throughout history.
The people of Wales and beyond rely on our water systems for their physical, mental and recreational needs – water connects us.
Our role is to lead a new focus on the importance of water within the National Park, to place the protection, repair and recovery of our water systems at the heart of all that we do.