EARLIER this year, it was announced that six of the UK’s most polluted rivers are in Wales — with the Usk and the Wye both high on the list after failing to meet phosphate targets in 2022.

In response, this year, Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park Authority launched a mission to change the fate of these rivers and share some top tips for how to support the wellbeing of Wales’s rivers.

Through working groups like the Usk Catchment Partnership, the National Park Authority is bringing a range of stakeholders — including farmers, Dŵr Cymru (Welsh Water) and Natural Resources Wales — in a concerted effort to find solutions to the river health crisis.

However, with so many contributing factors at play, including the effect of household and business waste, the National Park Authority is also calling on the public to help enact a ripple of change — by pledging their allegiance to the River Usk and Wye.

Here are the Bannau’s top tips to help safeguard the River Usk and other UK rivers for future generations:

1: Don’t put kitchen waste down the drain.

Food waste ends up down drains regularly, causing numerous blockages and leaks.

If you have a small amount of fat, cooking oil or fatty food leftovers to discard, you can recycle them in your food waste caddy.

2: Choose eco-friendly products. 

Whether it’s from washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, or cleaning spray, thousands of household chemicals are washed into the rivers every week.

From Smol to Method, there are plenty of brands that offer products without harmful fragrances, preservatives, and synthetic dyes.

3: Clean your home or business responsibly.

Basic home supplies like soda, lemon juice or vinegar are all brilliant alternatives to standard cleaning products.

Other tips include using reusable cloths instead of disposable wipes; and toothbrushes for scrubbing around taps or other hard-to-reach places.

4: Think before you flush.

In short, if it’s not one of the three p’s (pee, poo, and paper - toilet paper, obviously), then it shouldn’t go down the toilet.

5: Empty your septic tank regularly.

If a septic tank is not cleaned regularly enough, dangerous toxins can build up — eventually causing waste blocks and overflow, and the pollution that seeps into the soil can end up in local rivers.

6: Be a considerate car-washer.

Many surface water drains flow straight into rivers and streams.

If possible, take your vehicle off the road or your driveway completely — and wash it on grass or gravel instead, which will filter out contaminants from the water. You could even use an eco-friendly car wash.

7: Make regular use of the rivers.

Regular visits will arm you with the knowledge to spot when things aren’t right, such as milky or oily water.

These occurrences should be reported directly to Natural Resources Wales, which you can do here.