Slug Pesticide Metaldehyde Found In English Water Supply
By Sara Jerome
Slug pesticides are contaminating the water in some parts of England.
"The amount of the leading slug pesticide, metaldehyde, in water is above desirable levels in areas of eastern and southern England despite the recent dry weather," Farmers Weekly recently reported.
The EU Water Framework Directive limits its concentration in drinking water to 0.1 part per billion (ppb), the report said.
Slugs ravaged the crops last year, and farmers are afraid they will make a repeat appearance. But officials are telling farmers to be careful with their pesticide use, the Weekly said.
For water companies, metaldehyde creates a sticky situation.
"The chemical is almost impossible to remove from drinking water using standard treatments," The Guardian reported.
"At the moment there isn't a technique for stopping [the runoff of metaldehyde] other than not using it," Jeremy Biggs, an official at the wildlife charity Pond Conservation, said in The Guardian.
He was not too concerned for consumers or the environment, though. "You'd need to drink 1,000 liters of water every day of your life to be affected," he said.
Nevertheless, the water sector is still taking action. One company is teaming up with those in the agriculture industry to research ways to protect the water supply from slug pesticides.
U.K. water technology company Severn Trent, which provides disinfection, instrumentation and filtration technologies, among other services, has set up a number of trials in various catchments. These trials target an assortment of methods to manage water quality in line with slug control practices, reports the Farmers Guardian. The results are expected next year.
“The ultimate goal is to find a workable solution for the industry as a whole that is practical, cost effective, and will not negatively impact the water quality in our catchments,” Katherine Cherry, Severn Trent’s catchment management planner, said in the report.
Severn Trent is working directly with farmers to find a solution.
Farmer William Antrobus said, “I have a history of working in sprayer proficiency testing, so the opportunity to work with the water company to drive responsible use of pesticides was very attractive."
To read about a product that may help treat metaldehyde, check out this item published in Water Online.
Image credit: "Slug (BG)," © 2013 davidshort, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en