Farmers near Northamptonshire reservoirs to take part in slug pesticide campaign

Pitsford Water NNL-150704-132203001
Pitsford Water NNL-150704-132203001

A campaign to cut slug pesticide in our waters has been launched with a trial project taking place at three Northamptonshire reservoirs.

Anglian Water has launched its Slug It Out campaign to help farmers reduce the amount of pesticides which end up in the region’s reservoirs.

The campaign aims to reduce the levels of metaldehyde in rivers and reservoirs. The chemical is used to control slugs, which are damaging to crops. Although harmless to humans, the chemical is very difficult to remove at water treatment works and meeting tough EU targets on it is a real challenge for the region. Even tiny ammounts, the equivalent of one drop in an Olympic sized swimming pool, would go against European rules.

As part of the campaign the company is carrying out a trial project around six key reservoirs – three of which are in Northamptonshire at Hollowell Reservoir, Ravensthorpe Reservoir and Pitsford Water in Northamptonshire

The aim is to help farmers to move away from metaldehyde and use an alternative chemical instead. The farmers will receive payments to cover their costs and for taking part.

As well as this, Anglian Water’s new team of five Catchment Advisors will be talking to farmers about all the ways they can help reduce the amount of metaldehyde which finds its way into rivers and reservoirs.

Lucinda Gilfoyle, who is heading the campaign, said: “This is a whole new way of working for Anglian Water, so it’s very exciting for us. Our aim is to work in partnership with the farming community to improve the region’s water quality.

“Anglian Water spends large amounts of money removing pesticides from drinking water – this raises customers’ bills and wastes energy. However the one pesticide we cannot remove is metaldehyde. This is why we are embarking on a proactive, responsible catchment management approach which will benefit customers, farmers and our environment.

“Even tiny amounts of metaldehyde in our waters will break European rules and in the long term this will be bad news for farmers and consumers. It could mean new regulation being forced onto farmers, and the UK receiving large fines from Europe.

“We have gathered a great team of experienced advisors and they will be talking to all the farmers in the target areas over the coming days and weeks. We will be watching the results of this trial closely to plan the way forward.”

Farmers eligible to take part in the trial project have land within the natural catchments of six reservoirs, the three in Northamptonshire and Alton Water in Suffolk; Ardleigh Reservoir near Colchester and Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire.

The regulatory minimum level of metaldehyde stipulated by the European Union’s Water Framework Directive is 0.1 micrograms per litre (or parts per billion) in treated water.

Slugs are one of the most devastating pests faced by UK farmers - without effective control large amounts of wheat and oilseed rape would be severely damaged. Metaldehyde is currently the most popular way of dealing with slugs, however there are other effective methods including the alternative chemical ferric phosphate.

For more information visit www.anglianwater.co.uk/slugitout