14 March 2016
The Minister for the Environment is to consider introducing new measures to regulate pesticide use.
It follows the detection of the pesticide Oxadixyl in routine tests of stream water before treatment. All samples were below the World Health Organization (WHO) advisory safe health limit.
Oxadixyl was used before 2003 to control potato blight but withdrawn due to falling sales. Its presence was picked up when Jersey Water changed its UK testing laboratory.
Jersey Water is selecting and blending water resources to manage the concentration in the mains water supply and keep it within drinking water limits, which means public mains water supplies are clean and safe.
At Val de la Mare reservoir, residues of two pesticides, Metribuzin and Linuron were also detected. The reservoir is not currently being used by Jersey Water. Minor spikes in the detection of pesticides are common in the spring and usually tail off. Overall levels have declined in recent years but the Department of the Environment and Jersey Water continue to monitor for them.
Regular sampling of surface water (streams and reservoirs) and ground water (water underground) is continuing. Samples taken so far are within the WHO advisory safe health limit but more tests are needed to verify this. In the coming weeks, the Department of the Environment will sample a more representative number of Island boreholes and wells.
The Department of the Environment and Jersey Water are working together to investigate further. Public Health officials have also been made aware.
The Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce said “We’ve been working with growers and the leisure industry for some time to improve the water quality of our streams and other water sources in Jersey.
“Agricultural products and farming practices are far more environmentally friendly than they used to be and our testing and monitoring regime is much more rigorous and sophisticated than even a few years ago, which means we pick up far more than we used to. But the fact remains, these test results are unacceptable, and I think the time has come to consider tougher measures. We’re talking to sector representatives to discuss how we can work together to achieve better standards.
“I want to assure people that public water is clean and safely within EU guideline drinking water limits, thanks to Jersey Water blending supplies and by-passing affected reservoirs, but we need more information about levels in private boreholes and wells which we’re gathering now and we’ll share with the public in due course.”
The Chief Executive of Jersey Water, Helier Smith said “The important thing for Jersey consumers to note is that the public water supply is safe. Jersey Water is actively managing the situation to ensure we continue to supply high quality water to our customers.”
People with private water supplies are advised to follow good practice, as outlined in a leaflet produced by Environmental Health and sent to all registered well and borehole owners last year.
Download the leaflet: Private Water Supplies – Essential Information (493kb)