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Brecon primary school pupils lead campaign to tackle river pollution

Pupils from Mount Street Junior School

Pupils from Mount Street Junior School in Brecon marked World Rivers’ Day last week (24 Sept) with a promise to love and care for the Rivers Usk and Wye — which are facing a water quality crisis.

The promise is being led by the school’s Eco Club, which has joined forces with Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park — in a mission to further inspire local people to love the rivers, and help look after them from work or home.

However, with 67% of the Wye and 88% of the Usk failing to meet phosphate targets in 2022, minimising the impact of household and business waste is just one small step towards tackling the river crisis.

Indeed, the National Park is also conducting intensive work to address and find solutions to other, more major contributing factors — working in close collaboration with farmers, water companies, the Welsh Government, and organisations like Natural Resources Wales.

This high-level work is being delivered across various regional working groups such as the Usk Catchment Partnership.

Paul Sinnadurai, Senior Ecologist at Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority said: “Here at the National Park, we recognise the importance of collective action in preserving the natural beauty and health of the Rivers Usk and Wye. That’s why it’s so important for us to devise high-level solutions with water companies and farmers, while simultaneously encouraging the local community to join the cause at a grassroots level.

“We know how much the people of the Bannau care for the rivers so it’s great to be amplifying this — and sharing the seemingly small ways that they can support our mission, from work or home. For example, only using eco-friendly cleaning products and refraining from washing kitchen waste down the drain.”

This grassroots work is being delivered as part of the Park’s ‘Love Our Rivers’ campaign — which has been designed to provide guidance on ways that everyone can show their love and support for the rivers.

As part of the campaign, the public are being encouraged to demonstrate their love for the rivers via an online pledge. By signing the pledge, residents will make a personal commitment to helping improve the health of the beloved rivers from work or home — while demonstrating support for the higher-level activity needed to reduce pollution, for the benefit of current and future generations.

Pupils from Mount Street Junior School’s Eco Club kick-started the grassroots campaign by designing an array of posters and flyers — which will be displayed in the school, distributed to parents, and promoted via the Park’s social media channels over the next month.

Nicola Matthews, ECO- Co-ordinator for Mount Street Junior School said: “We are thrilled to be a part of this campaign with Bannau Brycheiniog National Park — not least because here at Mount Street, our pupils are passionate about caring for the environment. That’s why we have a dedicated Eco Club! The Club regularly discusses all manner of environmental topics — but it has been fascinating for them to learn about the ways that the Park is tackling the river crisis.

“Nurturing a deep-rooted love and responsibility for these special, familiar places will surely benefit Welsh rivers and ecosystems for generations to come. We’re very excited about helping to raise awareness.”