Water chief renews his calls for new reservoir
THE effects of climate change on the Island, potential solutions to it and crop diversification projects were key topics at yesterday’s Jersey Farming Conference.
Recently Jersey Water chief executive Helier Smith made calls for La Gigoulande Quarry in St Peter’s Valley to be resurfaced so it could be used as a reservoir to meet the Island’s future water needs.
At the conference, which was held at La Mare Wine Estate, he renewed his calls, claiming that climate change was already having a detrimental effect on Jersey’s water supply.
‘Jersey isn’t immune to climate change. We have been subject to a very dry 18 months. Rainfall in the last 12 months until the end of September was 19% less than the five-year average,’ he said.
‘We have had to run the desalination plant twice in the past 12 months and ground water levels over the winter of 2019 failed to reach anything like normal levels.
‘Climate change is here and now and it is affecting rainfall patterns and the availability of water for use in the Island.’
He added that converting La Gigoulande into a reservoir was a ‘unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ for a solution to meet the Island’s future water needs.
Later, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham spoke about the work being carried out to introduce and promote new crops, including hemp and medicinal cannabis, in the Island.
‘Our policy to search for new and alternative crops for Jersey is making significant headway,’ he said.
‘Jersey now has the largest tea plantation in Europe and we are opening ways for the development of hemp for medicinal cannabis, which will bring significant diversification opportunities to the rural sector.
‘I have just returned from delivering a keynote speech at a medicinal-cannabis conference in Toronto, where I had the opportunity to promote Jersey and remind the world what we do here.’
He added that Jersey was held in ‘high regard’ for its farming industry and good regulation.
Visiting professor John Crawford also spoke about the impact of climate change and work that was being carried out with Digital Jersey to develop a communication system to better manage the Island’s food chain.
‘Nobody owns the food chain, they own bits of it. What it needs to be about is how we have joint ownership of the food chain and how we collaborate to manage it,’ he said.
‘We have been speaking to Digital Jersey to see how we can try and deliver this sort of sustainable change and what we need is a platform to support this.’
He added that he hoped the planned system, if successful, could be used as prototype for food-chain management across the world.
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