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Questions over water diversion

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A PROPOSED scheme to prevent farming chemicals polluting drinking water supplies is being opposed by environmentalists who say it poses a threat to the Island’s most important natural wetlands.

St Ouen’s Pond. Picture: Tony Gray

Jersey Water is seeking planning approval to install a bypass system to the surface stream that feeds Val de la Mare from the west.

Two years ago it was closed for five months following pollution by chemicals used in potato growing.

The bypass will enable Jersey Water to divert the stream around the reservoir, as it can currently do with the surface stream to the east of Val de la Mare. However, the scheme has attracted the attention of environmentalists, as the bypass would feed into streams that run into St Ouen’s Pond.

The Site of Special Interest is owned by the National Trust for Jersey and the charity is objecting to the proposal. Concerns have also been expressed by the Environment Department.

Trust chief executive Charles Alluto says St Ouen’s Pond and the surrounding water meadows are some of the most important natural sites in the Island, and home to a variety of indigenous and migratory birds, other wildlife and plants.

‘As a conservation organisation we have an absolute duty to protect the SSIs in our care,’ he said. ‘We recognise that this problem is not of Jersey Water’s making, but we believe it is a statutory issue which both the States [the major shareholder in Jersey Water] and its utility providers need to look into and address in a constructive manner that safeguards our natural environment.

‘It is our view that the diversion pipe needs to go out into the sea, where it can disperse in a much larger and moving expanse of water than St Ouen’s Pond.

Jersey Water’s chief executive Helier Smith says the company took expert advice on the queries raised by the trust and Environment Department and that a report compiled by UK marine consultancy APBMer was available to be viewed at gov.je. He said Jersey Water had been working very closely with both organisations to address their concerns and added he was due to meet Mr Alluto this week for further discussions.

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‘Our expert advice is that it [polluted water] is very unlikely to have a detrimental effect that far downstream,’ he said. ‘It is our responsibility, as the Island’s drinking water supplier, to manage our resources to ensure we have sufficient supplies for the people of Jersey, so we have to take steps to protect out water resources from pollution.

‘We have a very good working relationship with the National Trust and the Environment Department and we are looking forward to working together to overcome this.’

The project is estimated to cost between £1.5 to £2 million and depending on when planning approval is given, and the overall capacity of the supplies, it could take between two to five years before the bypass is operational.

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
author

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