E.Coli bacteria in freshwater streams (FOI)
E.Coli bacteria in freshwater streams (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 20 June 2023.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
Please advise if any of the freshwater streams in St Martin that find their way to Queens Valley Reservoir have been diagnosed with E-coli bacteria?
Is the E-coli bacteria prevalent in the natural water resources in the freshwater streams within Jersey?
If so, what is the cause?
If so, what action is being taken?
It is well understood and accepted that microbiological contamination will be present in freshwater environments particularly in agricultural and urban areas where the risk is exacerbated after periods of heavy rainfall.
Stream water sampling taken prior to 2014 at Grouville Marsh, below the Queen’s Valley catchment, included microbiological testing for total coliforms, faecal coliforms and faecal streptococci but not E. coli.
The Environmental and Consumer Protection (ECP) team responds to reports of pollution on a case-by-case basis.
Where sampling results indicate that the presence of bacteria such as E. coli are within naturally occurring background levels, the report is recorded as a ‘natural’ occurrence.
ECP do not maintain a list regarding the cases that have recorded the presence of E. coli as a natural occurrence, therefore this information is not held and Article 10 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 applies.
Records are not configured in a way that will allow extraction of the details requested. A manual search of records would be required in order to obtain this information. It has been estimated that it would take in excess of 12.5 working hours to locate and retrieve the data requested. Therefore, this part of the request will not be processed further.
A scheduled public authority that has been requested to supply information may refuse to supply the information if it estimates that the cost of doing so would exceed an amount determined in the manner prescribed by Regulations.
Jersey Water also undertake water quality monitoring upstream and within their reservoirs, so you might wish to send your information request in writing to the details shown at the end of this response.
It should be noted that Jersey Water is not a Scheduled Public Authority (SPA) under the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011, therefore, they are not required to respond.
E. coli includes a wide variety of bacteria of different strains that exist naturally in the intestines of most warm-blooded animals and humans. Animals in the wild shed E. coli into the environment via their faeces onto the land or directly into the streams. It may also be washed into streams and water courses when it rains.
Jersey Water are responsible for ensuring their water supply meets minimum potable water standards. The Government of Jersey do not hold the information requested and Article 10 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 applies.
You may wish to contact Jersey Water directly in relation to your request as detailed in the response to question 1.
Article 10 - Obligation of scheduled public authority to confirm or deny holding Information
(1) Subject to paragraph (2), if –
(a) a person makes a request for information to a scheduled public authority; and
(b) the authority does not hold the information, it must inform the applicant accordingly.
(2) If a person makes a request for information to a scheduled public authority and –
(a) the information is absolutely exempt information or qualified exempt information; or
(b) if the authority does not hold the information, the information would be absolutely exempt
information or qualified exempt information if it had held it, the authority may refuse to inform the applicant whether or not it holds the information if it is satisfied that, in all the circumstances of the case, it is in the public interest to do so.
(3) If a scheduled public authority so refuses –
(a) it shall be taken for the purpose of this Law to have refused to supply the information requested on the ground that it is absolutely exempt information; and
(b) it need not inform the applicant of the specific ground upon which it is refusing the request or, if the authority does not hold the information, the specific ground upon which it would have refused the request had it held the information.
Article 16 - A scheduled public authority may refuse to supply information if cost excessive
(1) A scheduled public authority that has been requested to supply information may refuse to supply the information if it estimates that the cost of doing so would exceed an amount determined in the manner prescribed by Regulations.
(2) Despite paragraph (1), a scheduled public authority may still supply the information requested on payment to it of a fee determined by the authority in the manner prescribed by Regulations for the purposes of this Article.
(3) Regulations may provide that, in such circumstances as the Regulations prescribe, if two or more requests for information are made to a scheduled public authority –
(a) by one person; or
(b) by different persons who appear to the scheduled public authority to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign, the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them.
Jersey Water contact details:
In writing to:
Jersey Water, St Helier, Jersey, JE1 1JW
Internal Review Request
[Personal information redacted] has been informed that the stream from the natural springs further up La Rue du Rué St Martin and in La Rue des Fontaines St Martin are polluted with E. coli and your response gives no information to find out the cause or being able to rectify this pollution.
Therefore, please advise what evidence the government has on this particular problem.
Internal Review Response
This review has been completed by a senior Government of Jersey officer, independent of the original decision-making process.
Following their review of departmental data, they are satisfied that the original response was correct and that the response is upheld.
It is noted that the Government of Jersey had tested stream water in the area originally referenced, however, the results did not show any unexpected levels of E-coli other than those that would be expected as detailed in the original response.
Therefore, no investigations were required as no adverse pollution was identified.