A short film has been launched by the Action for Cleaner Water Group (ACWG) to showcase the improvements in Jersey’s water quality that have been achieved by the joint efforts of its members.
The ACWG is a joint initiative between Jersey Water, the Island’s sole provider of treated mains water, the Government of Jersey, and representatives from the farming and dairy industries to collaborate on best practice working methods to protect the quality of the Island’s water resources.
The film highlights the collaborative work of its members and the sustainable improvement in the Island’s water quality they are achieving.
Helier Smith, Chief Executive of Jersey Water, outlined the message of the film: “The Action for Cleaner Water Group wants to showcase the measures that we are taking to reduce the amount of fertilisers and chemicals used by the farming and dairy industries that could potentially enter our drinking water sources. Our collaboration has brought about new ways of working that have resulted in an estimated 25% decrease in fertiliser use by farmers in the last few years and tests show that nitrate and pesticide levels in the streams feeding our reservoirs are steadily declining.
“The water supplied by Jersey Water is of an excellent standard and is in full compliance with the regulatory limits for nitrates and pesticides. This is achieved despite the challenges presented by the use of nitrates and pesticides on the Island. However, by working together through the ACWG we have been able to reduce the impact of chemical use within our water supply. This does not mean that we can be complacent, as new risks can arise that are beyond our control. All Islanders can all contribute to ensuring that our environment, and our water sources in particular, are not negatively impacted by careless use of pollutants.”
In the film, group members explain how working together has identified technical innovations and changes in practice that mitigate excessive use of chemicals that could end up in the water supply. This collaborative approach is at the heart of the ACWG: it is in everyone’s interests to have the best possible water supply and limiting fertiliser and chemical use on fields can help achieve this. New technology and precision application techniques introduced by the ACWG members mean fertilisers are used at optimum levels at the right time and in the right places. These advances benefit the farmers, consumers of their products and the quality of the water in Jersey’s streams and reservoirs.
While Jersey Water operates a robust monitoring and testing programme that informs its treatment processes to ensure that mains drinking water remains clean and wholesome, the ACWG stresses that preventing pollutants from entering the raw water in reservoirs is in everyone’s interest.
Private water supplies (boreholes or wells) have always raised concerns as they often contain higher levels of chemicals than the treated mains water that Jersey Water supplies. Government advises that private supplies are registered with the Regulation Group, Growth Housing and Environment (tel: 441600) and that they are regularly tested to be fit for consumption.
Deputy Gregory Guida, Chair of the ACWG, said: “This film not only demonstrates the commitment that Jersey’s key stakeholders have to managing our common water resource but it also highlights the importance of all islanders taking responsibility for the cleanliness of our water.
“Jersey Water do a great job of monitoring and treating our drinking water to ensure it is of the highest quality, but we all need to consider how we use and dispose of any potentially polluting materials that could enter the water supply. Government is working to help Islanders rethink the way that they dispose of their waste, which we all need to do to help protect our water source and the wider environment, which is one of this Government’s common strategic priorities.”
Peter Le Maistre, President of the Jersey Farmers Union, said: “The Jersey Farmers Union are delighted that its members both in the arable and dairy sectors have fully supported the drive to improve the quality of the water in Jersey. It has been a privilege to work with a diverse group of different bodies, government and industry all working to a common goal. I feel sure that continued cooperation will drive water quality standards even higher.”