Hackathon event seeks innovative solutions to Teifi pollution problems

Representatives from a range of organisations, community groups and charities at the Hackathon event at Aberystwyth University

Representatives from a range of organisations, community groups and charities have come together to collaborate in a hackathon-style event to find innovative solutions and new ways or working to improve water quality in the Afon Teifi.

The event was organised by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) at Aberystwyth University, as part of the Teifi Catchment Demonstrator Project, launched last year.

Held over two days (28/29 February) the Hackathon involved partners working together to unlock some of the challenges facing water quality and biodiversity in the Teifi catchment, and brainstorming opportunities to tackle them in new ways.

Issues such as land use and agriculture, enforcement and regulation, nature-based solutions and citizen science were among many themes being examined.

Both short and long-term solutions identified over the course of the two days will be considered by the project to take forward as it progresses.

Sir David Henshaw, Chair of NRW said:

“Collaboration and partnership is at the heart of the Teifi Catchment Demonstrator Project, and it’s been fantastic to gather such a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise together in one room.
“We know what the issues are facing the Teifi, like many other rivers in Wales, but identifying long lasting and tangible improvements will require stronger relationships, novel ways of working and innovative approaches to both new and old challenges.
“The support and commitment we’ve received across these two days has been invaluable, with partners working towards a shared ambition of improving the Afon Teifi for its people and wildlife. These discussions will inform the scope of the project going forwards.”

Climate Change Minister Julie James said:

“Improving water quality is a complex issue which requires a collaborative approach.
“It has been great to visit today to see that ‘Team Wales’ work in action and take part in an open and honest forum where people can bounce ideas around.
“There is some great work going on around Teifi which I hope we can use to develop a ‘best practice’ model which can be replicated across Wales.”

Professor Rhys Jones from Aberystwyth University said: 

"We were pleased to be able to contribute to these important discussions which are being organised by Natural Resources Wales.
“There is a lot of relevant environmental expertise here in Aberystwyth - research work which plays a vital role in solving these challenges.
“I was also grateful to meet the Minister, whose presence underlined how high up these matters are on the government agenda.” 

The term ‘Hackathon’ comes from the ICT industry and refers to an event which brings together computer programmers with other interested parties to improve upon new software.

It is now being used more widely in other industries to create events which support collaboration and innovation.

The Teifi Demonstrator Catchment Project aims to complement other existing initiatives to improve the Afon Teifi, including NRW’s Four Rivers for LIFE river restoration project.

A project team, consisting of 16 partners, has applied for funding to the Ofwat Innovation Fund to support the delivery of actions.

The ambition for the project is to develop a model which can be scaled up and replicated in other Welsh river catchments in the future.