Farmers have been urged to exercise caution when using pesticides on their land after MCPA was detected in Longford drinking water supplies recently.
Irish water issued the warning to farmers, to be “mindful of best practice when spraying lands”. Irish water is currently working in a partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG) to ensure that farmers and other pesticide users adhere to guidelines when using them on their land. It is hoped that these efforts will result in a decrease in the number of such detections in the future.
The group is chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and features representatives from other Government departments and agencies; local authorities; industry representative bodies; farming organisations; water sector organisations; and amenity sector organisations.
Recent case in Longford:
Upon carrying out water tests in Longford, it was found to be exceeding levels three times in 2017. This was the case in Newtownforbes, Clondra and Longford town. Exceedances were also noted twice in Longford central and once in Ballymahon the year previous, 2016. Irish water says there is no threat to public health from the exceedances, though warned users to be mindful in future.
MPCA is used for the killing of rushes and other nuisance plants on farmland. It is also the main ingredient in weed killers used in gardens. Even one drop of MPCA pesticides can breach a water supply in a stream for up to 30kms!
“Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to improve water and wastewater services in Ireland. Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is our first priority. In Ireland, the majority (82 percent) of drinking water supplies come from surface water sources (water from rivers, lakes and streams). Such supplies are vulnerable to contamination from land and animal run-off.”, said Andrew Boylan, Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist,
“The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to tackle this issue. Users of pesticides should make sure that they are aware of the best practice measures that should be followed to protect water quality.”, said Dr. Aidan Moody, Chair of NPDWAG
Irish Water has issued a number of precautionary measures for farmers to heed when using chemicals in future:
- The basic steps in reducing pesticide risks are as follows:
- Choose the right pesticide product
- Read and follow the product label
- Determine the right amount to purchase and use
- Don’t spray if rain or strong wind is forecast in the next 48 hours
- Make sure you are aware of the location of all nearby watercourses
- Comply with any buffer zone specified on the product label to protect the aquatic environment. Mark out the specified buffer zone from the edge of the river or lake or other watercourse
- Never fill a sprayer directly from a watercourse or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a watercourse
- Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers 3 times into the sprayer
- Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly