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Water quality project launched

05 March 2014

A pilot project to improve water quality in the east of the Island gets underway later this week.

A team of environmental surveyors will be working in the area of Queen’s Valley reservoir to track possible sources of water pollution. They will carry out stream walk surveys in the tributaries that drain to the reservoir; looking for anything they think could affect the water quality and suggest possible measures to improve water quality.

It’s a new approach to ongoing efforts to reduce water pollution and is a joint project between the Department of the Environment and Jersey Water.

The introduction of the water pollution law 10 years ago helped reduce the number of water pollution incidents. Consequently, water quality in Jersey has improved considerably: just under half of the Island’s streams now have good or excellent biological water quality, compared to one in five 10 years ago.

Diffuse pollution

Despite the improvements, monitoring has shown that there are still important and necessary improvements to make to water quality, particularly with respect to nitrates in water. The States environmental protection team and Jersey Water are proposing a more targeted effort to tackle the pollution that comes from a number of different sources, known as ‘diffuse pollution’.

Environmental Protection Officer Kate Roberts said “We’re pleased with the progress made in reducing water pollution incidents, but the environmental protection team, together with Jersey Water, now want to add to the good work we are already doing with farmers in the existing ‘Diffuse Pollution Project’ and take a new approach to identifying and solving the problem of diffuse pollution. This pilot project is targeting specific areas and will, we hope, identify the causes of any problems and propose possible improvements.”

Diffuse pollution in the countryside may be the result of recreational or agricultural activities in parks, golf courses, and farms, for example. Domestic septic tanks can also contribute. Other sources include run-off from ploughed fields or bare soil, farm yard drainage or pesticides or fertilisers washed or draining into the water environment.

On its own, each source may only have a small effect on life in the water environment or water quality, but the impact of a large number of sources together can be significant. It is also very hard to solve the problem because there’s no obvious or single pollution source.

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