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Alliance ‘leading to cleaner water’

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A PARTNERSHIP between the States, a utility company and farmers to improve Jersey’s water quality is making a difference, says Environment.

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The department and Jersey Water have been working with the farming industry through the Action for Cleaner Water Group to improve the water quality of reservoirs, streams and other water sources in Jersey by reducing fertiliser and pesticide use.

Earlier this year they committed to a package of measures under a five-year Water Management Plan.

Yesterday the department released figures which show:

  • A drop in the level of nitrates in streams and other water sources by approximately one milligram a year, from a 1994 peak average of 68 mg per litre to around 43 mg per litre this year, with some early evidence that levels have begun to fall more quickly over the past two years.
  • A consistent decline in the permitted levels of nitrates in the mains water supply (the maximum allowed is 50 mg per litre and the highest level this year was 36 mg per litre).
  • No breach of the permitted maximum level of nitrates in mains water for four years.

Environment Minister Steve Luce said: ‘These figures show we’re on the right track and directly reflect the willingness of farmers to treat the issue of water quality in Jersey with the seriousness it deserves.

‘I’m grateful to them and hope this partnership will continue.’

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The farming industry has said that it will reduce and ‘better target’ its use of pesticides and fertilisers this season.

Meanwhile, following a study of how pesticides work in local conditions, procedures have been updated so that some pesticides can no longer be used in the most important ‘red’ water catchment areas of the Queen’s Valley and Val de la Mare reservoirs.

Handois has also been recently added to the ‘red’ catchment zone following farmers’ agreement at a recent Action for Cleaner Water Group meeting.

Controls are much stricter in ‘red’ catchments because of the potential impact on water supplies.

Changes to other guidelines, also accepted by Jersey farmers, mean that the recommended amount of nitrogen fertiliser used for Jersey Royal potatoes will be reduced.

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