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Welsh Water launches pesticide awareness campaign to protect drinking water quality

28/11/2016
  • Launch of pesticide awareness campaign to protect drinking water
  • Free pesticide disposal scheme
  • Award winning Weed Wiper trial extended and expanded

A new public awareness campaign which encourages people to consider ‘smarter’ ways of weed, pest and disease control that do not impact on people, water or wildlife, will be launched today (Monday 28th November) by Lesley Griffiths AM, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Winter Fair in Llanelwedd.

PestSmart, a joint initiative between Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales and supported by the Welsh Government and the agriculture and environment sectors, encourages farmers, growers and landowners to consider the way they manage their land to help improve raw water quality before it reaches water treatment works.

Ian Christie, Managing Director of Water Services at Welsh Water, said, “Our new PestSmart campaign will signpost land managers to advice and practical solutions for weed, pest and disease control and include a free pesticide disposal scheme for farmers, growers, foresters and land managers in targeted areas to safely dispose of any unwanted, out of date or now unlicensed pesticides. We are also delighted to announce that we are extending and expanding our award winning ‘Weed Wiper’ trial until 2020.

“Our routine raw water monitoring programme has detected increasing traces of pesticides in areas we have never seen them before. While these levels are too low to pose a risk to those drinking the water, they are enough to breach the rigorous drinking water standards so we want to work with land managers to take action to address this issue together.

“By safeguarding the raw water quality before it enters our water treatment works, we can avoid the need for using additional chemicals and energy to get drinking water perfect for our customers. This will not only help us to keep bills low for our customers and will also safeguard the environment and protect it for generations to come.”

“Anyone who is interested in finding out if they are eligible for either of these initiatives or who wants more information on our PestSmart campaign can visit our stand at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair where Welsh Water staff will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.“

Lesley Griffiths AM, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, said, “The importance of our water environment is acknowledged in the Welsh Government’s ‘Water Strategy for Wales’, which described it as “one of our greatest natural assets. The strategy also signalled our belief that a catchment-based approach is the best way of protecting our water environment for future generations.

“If we are going to protect our water environment for future generations, we will need to be imaginative about how to do this. The PestSmart initiative is an innovative approach that provides an excellent example of the sort of new collaborative approaches we want to foster in the years ahead.”

Diane McCrea, Chair of the Natural Resources Wales Board, said, “NRW is working hard to ensure that the environment and natural resources are used sustainably.  The two elements of the PestSmart campaign – the free pesticide disposal scheme and the weed wiper initiative which is available in targeted areas across Wales – will both reduce the risk of pesticides accidently finding their way into watercourses.”

“We know that pesticides play an essential and everyday role for farmers and land managers in Wales.  But is essential that any unwanted or out of date pesticides are disposed of safely so that they don’t have a damaging effect on people, water nor wildlife. The programme launched today is a way of collecting and disposing of pesticides in a safe and secure way.”

Welsh Water staff will be on hand to answer any queries on their PestSmart campaign in the livestock building, stand LB303, at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair or search ‘PestSmart’ on the Welsh Water website.

Notes to editors

PestSmart is the latest campaign in Welsh Water’s WaterSource approach to looking after our rivers, reservoirs and groundwater to protect our drinking water both now and for years to come.

The PestSmart target areas are within the Teifi, Upper Wye, Towy, Pendine, Cefni and Alaw Reservoir catchments. The Weed Wiper Trial areas are the Teifi, Upper Wye and Towy.

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