In 2004, the Foundation, along with Keep Wales Tidy and a group of volunteers, cleared several tons of rubbish, including old car batteries, from the banks of the Wye near Glasbury.

In 2004 the Foundation undertook an exercise to try and determine the source of the unsightly litter that is all-too-often deposited on the banks and hangs from trees of both rivers after every flood. Three river clean-ups were organised, two on the upper River Wye and one on the Usk. Manpower and equipment were provided by the Foundation, in partnership with Keep Wales Tidy and various volunteer groups, including canoeists.

After analysing the rubbish collected we found that a high percentage (>75%) of the litter originated from the agricultural sector, mostly being made up of silage wrap, feed bags and barbed wire. The only clean-up where agricultural waste amounted to less than 50% of the total was on the Usk. This was not entirely unexpected as this exercise was carried out in the semi-urban area immediately downstream of Llanfaes Bridge in Brecon. However, even with a large contingent of 'General Public' litter - cans, plastic bags, fast food containers etc - the agricultural waste still amounted to some 48% of the total.

Unsightly litter in our rivers is not just a hindrance for those promoting activities around them. There are two other fears that are equally, if not more, concerning. The first is that if 0.5 tonnes of litter can be collected from a 1 mile stretch of river, how much is the total that passes through, considering that most is washed straight through the system out to sea or onto the beaches? The second is that litter only represents the visible aspect of pollution. If there are no qualms about the unsightly mess of agricultural plastic, who is going to worry about invisible poisons such as sheep dip and other lethal chemicals which still make their way into watercourses?

Our rivers and streams are being used as conduits for all types of agricultural waste. The majority of the farming community seem well aware of the dangers and dispose of waste safely and conscientiously. It is the actions of a few, however, that continue to tarnish the reputation of the whole.

So what are we doing about it? These are WUF's solutions - Firstly, we work with volunteers, fronted by 'Keep Wales Tidy' to remove the unsightly problem wherever possible. Since 2004, there have been many clear ups on both rivers.

The second is longer term - educating those who still believe the primary function of a river is as a conduit for litter and other waste products. It's a bit easier in some parts of the catchment than others - from our work in restoring some of the tributaries we have created wild brown trout fisheries that bring an income to the farmers. By giving rivers an economic value, most will be keen to see that careless neighbours do not damage them.

For more details on why litter is such a problem click here.