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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

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Reporting water pollution and applying for discharge permits

The Water Pollution (Jersey) Law 2000

It's important that our waters remain pollution free. To help protect our controlled waters from pollution the States passed the Water Pollution (Jersey) Law 2000.

The Water Pollution (Jersey) Law 2000 on the Jersey Law website​

​Water Pollution (Code of Good Agricultural Practice) (Jersey) Order 2009 on the Jersey Law website​

Responsible for enforcing the law

Environmental Protection is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Water Pollution (Jersey) Law 2000. This is done in two principle ways, the:

  • investigation of pollution incidents
  • authorisation of polluting discharges to controlled waters under the controls of a discharge permit with appropriate conditions

Report a pollution incident

To report a pollution incident, phone the Environmental Protection hotline number +44 (01534) 709535. This will put you through to the duty officer who should be able to respond to the reported incident within 1 hour. Outside of these hours, a voluntary system operates.

Where available, an Environmental Protection Officer will attend or alternatively your report will be dealt with at the start of the next working day.

Pollution incidents occurring in the marine environment can also be reported to Jersey Coastguard on tel: +44 (01534) 447705 or VHF 82.

Pollution control and regulation of Port of Jersey website

When reporting a pollution incident it's useful if you:

  • report it while it's happening or as soon after as is possible
  • have precise information about the location of the incident and a description of what is happening

Home pollution leaflet
Water pollution from construction leaflet
Groundwater pollution leaflet
Water pollution from oil leaflet
Water pollution from organic waste leaflet
Water pollution from ships and boats leaflet
Water pollution from pesticides leaflet

Investigating pollution incidents

Environmental Protection Officers investigate, on average, more than 100 reports of pollution each year. Many of the cases would be considered serious in the UK.

The numbers and types of incident are shown in the below report for 2007 and 2008.

Total number of pollution incidents

Applying for a discharge permit

Applications must be made in writing. You may be asked for supporting information and maps. The application form can be downloaded, completed and returned to Environment Protection.

Discharge permit application form

The application may be authorised or refused following a consultation period. There may also be conditions imposed in granting or varying a permit. These include requirements as to the:

  • place and manner of the discharge
  • duration of the permit
  • processes to be adopted to minimise pollution
  • sampling and measuring facilities
  • keeping of records and the making of returns to Environmental Protection

Transferring or varying a discharge permit

Permits are granted to a person and not a property. Provisions exist in the law for the transfer of discharge permits from person to person for example, when a property is sold. A specific form is available for the transferring of a permit from one person to another and this requires both the transferor and transferee to sign the document. If the permit holder wishes to change a condition on their permit for example, they have built a large extension on their property and the number of people using the drainage system has increased significantly, they should do so in writing, giving the proposed variation as well as reasons for why they wish to vary the conditions on their permit.

Transfer a discharge permit application form

Authorising discharges to controlled waters

A discharge permit is an authorisation to discharge into controlled waters, a substance or energy that would otherwise be classified as polluting.

Most of the discharge permits issued by Environmental Protection relate to effluent from private drainage systems being released from the soakaway underground. This discharge may eventually reach groundwater.

If the system is properly constructed and well-maintained, it should not pose a risk of pollution. However, if a soakaway is defective causing sewage to flow into a nearby stream, it can cause pollution.

The law does not make it compulsory for a householder to obtain a discharge permit. However, if a person anticipates that their private drainage system may cause pollution, a discharge permit would provide them with a ‘shield’ against any possible action under the law, as long as the conditions set out within the permit are met.

Marine pollution

The marine environment is protected from pollution by 4 independent Laws:

  • Water Pollution (Jersey) Law 2000
  • Shipping (Jersey) Law 2002
  • Shipping (MARPOL) (Jersey) Regulations (currently being developed by the Maritime Compliance section within Economic development)
  • Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985 (Jersey) Order 1987

These Laws are administered by different departments and have complimentary, but separate, enforcement powers to each other. Therefore a Memorandum of Understanding has been drawn up and agreed by the relevant Ministers in order to:

  • clarify each department’s respective roles with regard to marine pollution
  • avoid any unnecessary duplication between these departments
  • provide an efficient and cost-effective pollution prevention and control service

Memorandum of understanding in relation to wa​ter pollution​​

Pollution definition

In the Jersey water pollution law, the definition of pollution is in line with modern european thinking and with the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the north-east Atlantic.

Pollution includes the introduction of substances or energy into controlled waters that cause or may cause:

  • a hazard to human health or water supplies
  • harm to any living resource or aquatic eco-system
  • damage to any amenity value or
  • interference with any legitimate use of controlled waters

It also covers the introduction into controlled waters of a substance or energy that contributes to pollution, but which may not be the sole cause.

The OSPAR Convention

The Law implements the provisions of the OSPAR Convention (Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic). Although, strictly speaking, the Convention applies to marine waters, several OSPAR concepts have been extended to inland waters and groundwaters. These include the extended definition of pollution in respect of substances and energy, the requirements for best available techniques and environmental practice, the precautionary and cost principles and the recognition of ‘high risk’ substances.

Controlled waters include:

  • the territorial seas of the Island up to the 12 mile limit
  • coastal waters, as far as the highest tide, including bays and inlets
  • surface water including streams, brooks, reservoirs, lavoirs
  • and groundwater ie water under the surface of the earth
  • surface water sewers, but do not include lawful foul sewers or small, discrete self-contained waters

The following are exempt from the water pollution law:

  • privately owned small ponds
  • fountains
  • sealed piped systems

However, the States can declare a particular pond or lake to be controlled water if it is felt that it is of ecological significance.

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