Water Industry News

What Impact Can Pesticides Have On Our Waterways?

Although pesticides can be very useful in agriculture and in our gardens to help keep certain pests at bay, protecting crops from harm, it’s important to remember that their use can also have far-reaching environmental impacts, affecting our waterways, the soil, biodiversity, plants and wildlife.


Pesticides can be found in groundwater, rivers, streams, lakes and oceans, reaching waterways by being carried as runoff, leaching through the soil, drifting after being sprayed or through accidental spills.


There are eco-friendly alternatives to pesticides readily available, but a new survey carried out by Welsh Water has revealed that, despite this, there are many people out there who don’t understand what impact pesticides like slug pellets and weedkillers can have on waterways.


Phillippa Pearson, head of water services science with the water supplier, explained that unless pesticides are stored, used and disposed of properly, they can be harmful to water, wildlife and to people.


She said: “Our routine water monitoring programme has detected increasing traces of pesticides in some areas across Wales. While these levels are too low to pose a risk to tap water, they’re enough to mean the water needs more treatment to meet rigorous drinking water standards and ensure we can continue to supply wholesome water to our customers.


“By safeguarding and improving raw water quality before it gets to our water treatment works, we can avoid using additional chemicals and energy to get your drinking water perfect. Working together to reduce our reliance on pesticides helps us to keep bills low and safeguards and protects the environment for generations to come.”


Welsh Water has now launched a new website – PestSmart.wales – to provide people with resources and information to help them use, store and dispose of pesticides safely, as well as providing them with more information on the journey of pesticides from weed to waterway when not used appropriately.


The study also found that 25 per cent of people don’t understand what impact pesticides can have on animals, in spite of the fact that the chemicals can be harmful to pets.


And 32 per cent of those asked said they’re not confident about how to dispose of leftover pesticides and containers properly, with six per cent saying that pouring the product down the sink with boiling water was the right way to go about it.


There are natural solutions to help manage weeds, pests and plant diseases, such as a salt solution with some liquid soap, which can be used on paving weeds.


Crushed egg shells, meanwhile, can be used to deter slugs, while citrus peel can also be used to keep these particular pests away from plants. It could be worth perusing the PestSmart website to see what other solutions you could find to help with pest control at work or at home.


Do you want to find out who supplies your water? Get in touch with SwitchWaterSupplier.com today.