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Welsh World Champion Triathlete launches campaign to mobilise changes in water management

Kate and Numair at Radyr Weir on the Taff

Pontypridd born triathlete, Kate Strong, alongside globally recognised freshwater health expert Numair Masud, hiked the length of the River Taff from its source in Brecon down to Cardiff over three days. The 82km walk was carried out to kick-start a campaign which aims to highlight the fragility of our water systems and mobilise our government to take action to protect our rivers and waterways.

The River Taff plays an important role in providing not only freshwater for people in Wales, but also a habitat for salmon, trout, otters and eels, among other wildlife, and offers a source of food for birds like heron and kingfishers.

However, many rivers, including the Taff are subject to pollution from agricultural leakage, manufacturing plants, litter, and sewage. This does not only affect aquatic life and therefore the biodiversity of the river, it also places a risk to human health and reduces the amount of freshwater we can use for consumption.

Triathlete, Kate Strong said, “Our water systems are extremely fragile and rivers like the Taff play a significant role in providing a habitat for small creatures but also supporting recreational activity like paddleboarding, kayaking, and swimming. However, when you walk along the river, you can visibly see the pollution and litter deposited gathering on its banks. And we can all play a role in helping to reduce this.”

97% of the world’s water is seawater and therefore undrinkable, another 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers, leaving just 1% for all of humanity. However, due to pollution and climate change, only 0.5% of water on our planet is usable fresh water for human consumption.

Fresh water expert and academic from Cardiff University, Dr Numair Musad added, “The amount of water available versus the demand for water is unbalanced, creating water insecurity in many parts of the world. Most developed countries, like the UK, have sustainable access to adequate quantities of clean water, but many developing countries, in fact, 40% of the global population does not have access to clean water. This causes water insecurity and can lead to people drinking dirty water which puts them at risk of waterborne diseases. Not only this but water insecurity can lead to lower levels of food production, and industrial outputs, leading to worldwide shortages.”

“We want to educate people on the fragility of water security, to ensure people understand the widespread impact globally, not just locally. Climate change is affecting the volume of water available, so we all need to play our part in protecting our rivers and waterways.”

Kate added, “We want our campaign to not only educate people but inspire and empower them to take action for themselves by not only helping to conserve the water they use in their homes but be more aware of what they are putting down the drain. Many washing up liquids and detergents contain harmful chemicals that are polluting our water; therefore, we need to be more mindful of the products we are purchasing and using on a daily basis. We can all do something to protect our water supply, and collectively, we can make a difference.”

Kate and Numair’s walk along the Taff is just the start of a nine-month long campaign to highlight and raise awareness of the fragility of our water insecurity, while educating, inspiring and empowering people to take action for themselves to keep the water system clean and reduce pollution. The campaign will culminate in a World Record clean-up of the River Taff taking place on ‘International Day of Action for Rivers’ (14 March 2025). The campaign aims to educate school children, Senedd members and the public through a variety of marketing activities throughout the year.