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"Think before you spray"

Monday 20 April 2020

"Think before you spray"

If you're doing some gardening during the extended lockdown, Guernsey Water wants you to “think before you spray” and to consider the damage that certain chemicals can cause to our water supply networks.

The use of herbicides and pesticides should be limited in gardens, with homeowners asked "to deploy them responsibly so to limit the exposure of hazardous chemicals entering the local environment".

The utility said pesticides and herbicides should be "used with caution and in line with professional guidance and not be applied to vulnerable areas of local habitat such as stream banks, ponds, wet meadows, marshy areas, douits, drainage ditches, culverts or paved areas".

There are some 'green alternatives' which can be used instead, said Guernsey Water. Those include the rotation of crops, hand removal of weeds, vinegar sprays or utilising mulch or wood chips as a weed barrier.

Margaret McGuinness, Water Quality Risk Manager at Guernsey Water, said: “With people spending increased amounts of time in their gardens during the Covid19 lockdown, we felt it timely to offer advice on how we can help protect the local environment whilst enjoying our time outdoors.

“If you are going to use either herbicides or pesticides, always follow the professional guidelines provided and limit usage to essential treatments. However, we would rather encourage natural alternatives where possible as it is better for the environment, and for our water treatment, if we avoid the unnecessary use of chemicals in the first place.”

Guernsey Water reservoir

Pictured: The reservoir at St Saviour. 

Where chemicals have to be used, Guernsey Water asked that the following guidelines be followed even if the areas are dry at the time of application and the product labelling indicates it can be used in or near watercourses:

  • Don’t apply pesticides in wet or windy conditions, or if rain is forecast within a few days, this can lead to run-off and contamination
  • Slug pellets containing Met aldehyde should not be applied within ten metres of vulnerable areas
  • Direct application may be carefully used up to one metre from the edge of the vulnerable areas identified above
  • Spraying should not be carried out within three metres of a douit, stream, pond or other watercourse
  • Spraying on paved areas should be avoided and hand weeding or direct application methods are best under these circumstances
  • The commercial application of pesticides must only be undertaken by trained personnel holding a certificate of competence
  • Washings from containers must not be allowed to enter surface water gullies or drains.

As part of its commitment to helping to protect the environment, Guernsey Water has stopped using all herbicides on its own sites, aside from those required for invasive species like Japanese knotweed, which are treated in accordance with professional and specific procedures.

For further advice, or to report a pollution incident, call Guernsey Water on (01481) 239500.

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