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Every Drop Counts...

The quantity of water in the Wye can pose challenges to its inhabitants in high flows and low flows. As well as being a valuable supply of drinking water, water in the Wye supports local food production, tourism, recreation and wildlife.

“The Wye provides drinking water for 2.5 million people! There are drinking water abstractions throughout the Wye; Welsh Water supply householders inside the catchment as well as Birmingham, Cardiff and Newport whilst Severn Trent Water also supply householders in Gloucestershire.”


The demand for water from the Wye is met, in part by the construction of reservoirs in the upper part of the catchments. Water is either piped from these reservoirs by gravity to Birmingham or extra flows are released down the river to be abstracted. Various abstraction points take water for local use as well as a Severn Trent abstraction at Lydbrook to supply Gloucester. Agricultural use includes irrigation, winter storage reservoirs and other licenced abstractions including water for livestock.

The Usk & Wye Abstraction Group

The UWAG consortium has ensured optimum solutions that ensured the best for the river and waterways with the least impact on supplies for the water companies. Find out more about what has been achieved by this group.

Natural Flood Management

Much has been achieved elsewhere in the UK by attenuating flows in the upper reaches of a catchment, either through improved soil management or construction of leaky dams and swales. This is a new approach in the Wye and we have several projects now running locally:

Wye & Lugg

A partnership project between the Environment Agency & Herefordshire Council seeks to address flood risk from 7 priority areas between 2018-2021. Herefordshire Council have appointed an NFM Project Officer who will manage the project and liaise with local communities to ensure the right actions are delivered in the right place. The project also involves the Wye & Usk Foundation who will be working with landowners to improve soil structure, increase infiltration rates and water holding capacity of the soils. Several research and monitoring programmes will also take place during the project to add to the national knowledge base around NFM techniques.

Lower Wye Valley

The Wye Valley AONB are working to mitigate flood risk from 4 tributaries, including the Angiddy and Cat Brook which drain in to the Wye Valley near Tintern. The AONB are working with local partners, landowners and communities to deliver the project which is funded by Natural Resources Wales until 2019.

Yazor Brook

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and the Wye & Usk Foundation are working to further alleviate flooding in Hereford city by both working with landowners in the upper catchment and properties and businesses within the city to slow water runoff. The project is funded by the Environment Agency until 2019.

Wye, Ithon & Severn Ecosystem (WISE) Project

The Wye & Usk Foundation and Severn Rivers Trust project will work across their two large catchments in 6 tributaries to reduce runoff and hold more water in farmland. The project also seeks to identify the value of ecosystem services this provides downstream inhabitants, improve wildlife habitat and carry out research about infiltration rates. The project is funded by Welsh Government’s Sustainable Management Scheme.

How Natural Flood Management Works


Many households and businesses are threatened by surface waTer and river flooding in the Wye. The Environment Agency are responsible for management of main rivers, local authorities are responsible for surface water and localised flooding from streams. The Internal Drainage Board are also responsible for watercourse maintenance in certain tributaries.

Want to Keep an Eye on River Levels?

The Environment Agency has a network of gauging stations monitoring river levels with an interactive map of up to date river levels.
The Wye & Usk Foundation have six webcams spread throughout the Wye to monitor river levels for recreation.