Call to help shape the vision of the new Taf Fechan community project

  • Community-based environmental project receives more than £48,000 rural development grant funding
  • Call for residents to help create a vision for local areas which will create positive change

A call is going out to the residents of Pontsticill and Merthyr to consider getting involved with an exciting new community-based project which aims to improve the environment and create a long-term vision for the area. The Taf Fechan Landscape and Community Project has come about following a successful grant application by Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit utility company in England and Wales, in partnership with the Pontsticill Community Group. The project has been awarded more than £48,000 by Rural Action Cwm Taf under the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

It aims to improve how we manage our drinking water through catchment management. A water catchment is an area of land from which water flows into a larger body such as a river or reservoir. To ensure the best quality drinking water reaches our customers, catchment management aims to protect and enhance this water in the environment by tackling any quality issues at source to reduce the chemicals and energy needed at the water treatment works. A catchment management approach is one which uses a collaborative approach to community engagement and action. Part of the grant will help towards employing a project officer to build community engagement with the local community and visitors to Pontsticill reservoir.

The project objectives are:

  • To protect and improve water quality both for drinking water and to achieve a higher ecological status.
  • To restore and create natural habitat to improve biodiversity and public access.
  • To address issues around anti-social behaviour including:
    • Fly tipping and littering
    • Risks associated with wildfires on common land
    • Impacts from illegal off-road vehicle use
    • Unauthorised swimming in the reservoir
  • To foster community empowerment
  • To build and grow a partnership approach to ensure long term resilience of the water supply and wider environment within the catchment.

The team driving the project is now sending out an appeal to the local communities to get involved and share any ideas they might have which will help shape the direction of the project. “The Taf Fechan project is one of the first projects developed as part of the new Brecon Beacons Mega-Catchment, a new Welsh Water programme which will work collaboratively with a wide range of interested parties to reduce and prevent water quality issues at source,” said David Ashford, the manager of the BBMC programme. “We’re thrilled we’ve been successful with this grant, and we’re looking forward to working with other groups that have a vested interest in water.

“This project embodies what we are trying to do with the Mega-Catchment. We have worked closely with Pontsticill Community Group in preparing this application, and we look forward to working alongside them further to get the project up and running.

“We’re hoping people will want to get involved and share with us their thoughts and ideas for how we can make a positive change to the area which will have long lasting benefits for as many people as possible. This could include opportunities for improving the local environment for nature and for their own enjoyment as well as safeguarding water quality in the reservoirs” The Pontsticill catchment covers an area of over 16Km² and includes the Pontsticill and Pentwyn Reservoirs and the sites of the former Upper and Lower Neuadd Reservoirs. This catchment supplies water to over 160,000 properties throughout Merthyr and South East Wales.

“The community is very supportive of this collaboration with Welsh Water,” said Anthony Pritchard, Chair of Pontsticill Community Group. “We are a committed group of volunteers who have been trying to do our best for the local area, looking after the environment and trying to educate others to do the same. Doing this while safeguarding the quality of the water in our local reservoir is something we are passionate about. “The money coming from this project will now enable the employment of a full-time project officer to oversee these endeavours and develop new ones.”

The project is about more than protecting water quality, however. It is also aimed at re-connecting people with their landscape, enriching their recreational experiences and providing opportunities to promote well-being. “Collaborations such as this one, between a large company like Welsh Water, environmental organisations like ourselves and a group of local volunteers is something to be celebrated and promoted,” said Jake Castle from Keep Wales Tidy. “I for one am excited to see how far we can go thanks to this funding, and to see what else we can inspire along our journey.”

The BBMC team is now working closely with local representatives to create a steering group of interested parties who will move the project forward.

The Taf Fechan project fits in with the long-term strategy of Welsh Water to protect water supplies for future generations.
To suggest ideas and issues, help shape our vision, or to receive further information on the BBMC please contact