Investigation into possible illegality over water pollution

AN investigation is under way to determine if anyone has acted illegally in causing the recent pollution of two reservoirs in Jersey, the Environment Minister has confirmed.

Investigations are under way following incidents at Handois (above) and Queen’s Valley reservoirs
Investigations are under way following incidents at Handois (above) and Queen’s Valley reservoirs

Earlier this year Handois reservoir in St Lawrence was closed after it was found to be contaminated by the fungicide azoxystrobin, while last month Queen’s Valley reservoir was closed for two weeks after a feeder stream was polluted with the weed-killer metrabusine, which is used on potato crops.

The two cases were the first instances of pollution detected in Jersey reservoirs since high levels of farming chemicals were detected around the Island two years ago.

During States questions, Deputy Jackie Hilton asked Environment Minister Steve Luce how concerned he was about the two incidents. ‘Chemicals in water courses are a problem that occur at this time of year, especially at times of high rainfall,’ said Deputy Luce.

‘In both cases the offences, if they are offences, are being investigated. My officers are out trying to test and decide where these chemicals have come from.

‘But, of course, it doesn’t automatically follow that these chemicals are being used illegally or by people who are not qualified or by machines which haven’t been calibrated.

‘Certainly in a recent incident it was a result of extreme rainfall and I am aware that that happens at this time of the year.’

He added that his department was continuing to advise farmers on what chemicals to use on their crops and ministerial powers would soon be extended to help prevent toxic chemicals getting into the water supply.

‘[We] continue to rate the particular chemicals we use in our countryside so that farmers are well aware of the ones which they shouldn’t use in particular areas,’ he said. ‘The water plan was approved in this Assembly in 2016 and the details of that are being worked on in the Law Officers’ Department.

He added that his department would ‘later this year’ have extended legal powers to prevent certain chemicals being used in specific catchment areas.

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