The Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel has published a report on its Review of Nitrate Levels in Jersey’s Water. The Panel’s review has assessed the measures proposed by the Minister for the Environment in the Water Management Plan (WMP) for addressing the issue of nitrate levels.
The Panel’s review supports the evidence that shows that nitrate contamination is having a clear and significant impact on Jersey’s public water supplies, private water supplies and on the sea lettuce problem in St Aubin’s Bay. Controlling nitrates at source is key to improving Jersey’s water quality and we commend the Minister and his Department for the work undertaken in producing the WMP and the ambitious targets contained within for addressing the issue of nitrate levels. The Panel concluded that the objectives contained within the Plan provide a good balance between what is desirable and what is reasonable for a sustainable economy. However, in order to address the nitrate problem affecting Jersey’s public water supplies, nitrate leaching will have to reduce by 25-33% from 2016 levels. This degree of reduction will present a significant challenge for the Minister.
The Panel has found that, due to the ambitious measures contained within the Plan, the employment of at least one new full time member of staff will be necessary to assume a compliance and catchment officer role within the Environment Department. Without this additional resource, it is not certain that the WMP will be successful in delivering its objectives.
During the past year significant progress has been made in addressing levels of nitrate due to a growing commitment amongst all stakeholders to improve water quality and by working closely together to achieve that goal. Undoubtedly, a collaborative working relationship between the Government, the industry and Jersey Water is fundamental to the overall success of the Plan in reducing high levels of nitrate in the Island’s water. Thus, we recommend that the Environment Minister ensures that all key stakeholders continue to work closely together throughout the duration of the Plan in order to effectively address this issue.
The Minister for the Environment will respond formally to the Panel’s recommendations in due course.