Section 2 – Natural Environment – Coastal National Park
We note that the proposal for a Coastal National Park includes the area where Val de la Mare Reservoir is located. This reservoir is the second largest surface water storage reservoir on the Island and is essential for the maintenance of adequate water supply for the Island.
In October 2009, Jersey Water completed its Water Resource Management Plan (WRMP), which sets out how the company will supply water during the next 25 years. This report was undertaken by international water and environmental consultants, Montgomery Watson Harza Ltd. The report identifies that by 2032, if we do not reduce demand and increase water resource capacity, there could be a shortfall of 26% between water available and demand. This forecast is based on a 1 in 50 year drought with mid climate change and population increases over this period.
A contribution to the cost of producing the WRMP has been made by the States Planning & Environment department and its conclusions have been supported by its officers (Water Resources Section).
There are two water resource projects which are planned to be undertaken. The first project, which is planned to be progressed in 2010, will be to increase the water abstracted from the sand aquifer in the St Ouen’s Bay area. It is estimated that the existing 5 borehole sources operated by Jersey Water abstract 20% of the water that is potentially available. The proposed expansion of water abstraction will require a planning approval and a licence under the Water Resources (Jersey) Law 2007.
A much larger and future project will be the expansion of the Val de la Mare Reservoir, from its existing storage capacity of 900 ML to 2,100 ML. It is proposed to achieve this by raising the height of the dam by nine metres. Jersey Water owns sufficient land around the reservoir to accommodate the new higher top water level. The expansion will require abandonment of the existing peripheral footpaths and new footpaths to be created at a higher level.
The timescale for expansion of the reservoir is not yet determined, but at the present time it is felt that it could be required between 2015 and 2020. This will be reviewed in 2014, when it is planned to update and review the WRMP. Some preliminary design work will commence in 2010, to allow construction timescales and costs to be determined.
The geology in Jersey does not support adequate volumes of ground water needed for a public water supply. Therefore, we are reliant on the collection and storage of surface waters for the majority of our natural fresh water resources. The only alternative being desalinated water which is energy-intensive to produce and is not an environmentally sustainable proposition, other than as a standby resource.
Given our limited natural water resources, we would request that the project to expand Val de la Mare Reservoir, which will be essential in providing a secure water supply in future years, is noted in the Island Plan. Ideally, we would also request that the boundary of the Park be changed to exclude the Reservoir. Whilst the project will require planning permission and an Environmental Impact Assessment to be undertaken, the inclusion of the Reservoir within the boundary of the National Park could seriously hinder and delay the extension of the Reservoir. This could impact on the ability of the Company to implement its WRMP and therefore has the potential to affect the long-term security of Island’s water supply.
As mentioned above, Jersey is reliant on the collection and storage of surface waters for its public water supply.
The majority of Jersey Water’s installations are located within areas designated as Green Zones. These installations, which comprise, stream collection ponds, pumping stations and treatment works are vital to the provision of the public water supply. It is likely in future years that many of these installations will require to be modified, upgraded and expanded, not only to meet increased demands for water but to meet new drinking water quality standards, health & safety requirements and technological changes.
We request that due cognizance is given to the above, when formulating planning criteria for the Green Zones, so as to allow Jersey Water to meet its obligations in supplying adequate volumes of water to future standards.
We are pleased to see that as part of this objective, the protection of the Island’s water resources is included, however, there is no mention of the ongoing diffuse pollution of water from nitrates and any action plan on how to overcome this problem.
The penultimate bullet point in Objective NR1 states “to support the appropriate development and siting of new facilities and infrastructure by utility companies” We trust this can be interpreted such that the Planning & Environment Minister would give special consideration for future essential water supply infrastructure works.
We feel it would be useful to mention the recently completed Water Resource Management Plan (WRMP) in Clause 9.8. The WRMP (as previously mentioned) sets out how Jersey Water proposes to maintain an adequate supply of water during the next 25 years.
As part of the WRMP it is proposed to commence universal metering of all connections on the Island in 2010, with a target of having 90% of connections metered by 2014. Water charges will be based on water used and could result in a reduction in water demand of between 10 and 20%.
Protection of Water Resources
The ongoing diffuse pollution of both surface and ground water resources from nitrates is an issue for both Jersey Water and private water supplies. There is no mention of this within the Island Plan. The levels of nitrates recorded in most water resources during the spring months are above the 50 mg/l limit. Jersey Water has time-limited dispensations under the Water (Jersey) Law 1972 which allows nitrate levels in treated water to be above 50 mg/l, but not exceeding 70 mg/l for 30% of its annual regulatory samples. The present dispensation period (which is the second) is for 5 years duration and expires on the 31st December 2013. Continuing dispensations may not always be forthcoming in future years and action needs to be planned to make serious efforts in reducing nitrate levels in water resources.
Since the introduction of the Water Pollution (Jersey) Law 2000, Jersey Water has advocated the designation of Water Catchment Management Areas (WCMA) under the law, in order to reduce nitrates and improve the quality of water resources.
We should like to see reference made for the need to reduce nitrate levels in water resources and the plans that the States have for the designation of WCMAs to achieve this, included within the NR1 objective.
We would re-iterate our suggestion that the protection of water resources from diffuse nitrate pollution, under the Water Pollution (Jersey) Law 2000 and the possible use of WCMAs to achieve this, is included in Clause 9.11.
In Clause 9.12, it is stated that Water Catchment Management Areas (WCMAs) have been ‘explored’. The context in which WCMAs are mentioned in this clause can be interpreted as such that they are not being considered further. This is contrary to the fact that the Water Resources section are currently undertaking a field trial in the Val de la Mare catchment to study the effect of controlling the amount of fertiliser applied to the fields.
We note that in Clause 9.13 the Environmental Protection Team is consulted on proposed developments within the Water Pollution Safeguard Areas (WPSA). Jersey Water was instrumental in the setting up of the WPSA in 1987 and at present we too are consulted when applications are made for developments in these areas. We should like to continue to be consulted on such applications, to ensure the continued protection of water resources.
We note and welcome the proposals to improve water efficiency and conservation.
Jersey Water will be commencing a water efficiency campaign alongside its plans to introduce universal metering. The campaign will promote the benefits of using water-saving domestic devices and we shall also be giving advice on water saving tips. Water audits will be offered to commercial customers with the aim of reducing water wastage.
We welcome Proposal 20 – Water Conservation, which will require new developments greater than 1,000 m2 or 10 dwellings, to have a ‘water conservation strategy’. We would also recommend that such developments include provision for collection and storage of roof drainage water for external uses such as garden watering. Such installations would have the dual benefit of attenuating surface water drainage flows and reducing the demand for treated water in the summer months due to garden watering.