Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford is set to meet representatives from farming unions at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Showground today (Monday, June 18) for a meeting on river pollution.

They will be joined by representatives from local government, the building industry, water companies, regulators, environmental agencies and food producers.

These representatives will together, discuss potential ways of reducing river pollution in Wales.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

"It is only by working together that we can tackle phosphorus pollution in our rivers.

"This is a complex issue and there is no one easy answer – we all have a part to play if we are to reduce the level of phosphorus and tackle the root causes of pollution.

"We must work together with the farming sector, with food producers and the water industry to find solutions to these problems, which is why I have called this summit at the Royal Welsh."

Phosphate in rivers

According to Natural Resources Wales (NRW), phosphate can cause significant ecological damage to rivers and can lead to eutrophication.

Phosphate is naturally occurring, and is released slowly, at low levels, from natural sources, from natural bankside erosion for example, NRW added.

However, phosphates can also enter rivers from land management practices, sewerage and foul water that can contain detergents and food waste.

According to the Senedd, there were over 105,000 incidents of untreated sewage being dumped in Welsh watercourses in 2020.

This is significantly higher than the amount of incidents recorded in 2016 (15,000).