In a report released today (April 14) Wessex Water urges action after it found evidence for a cheaper, greener way of safeguarding natural water sources.

In Managing Water – Managing Land five years of research shows farmers encouraged to change how and where they use agricultural chemicals close to sources used to supply drinking water.

Findings in the report reveal a catchment management approach to dealing with pesticides and nitrates are ‘highly effective’.

It also concludes the approach is just 15% of the cost of the traditional approach to tackling the problem, which is to build treatment plants, which cost up to £7 million each.

Wessex Water’s head of water resources and supply, Luke de Vial, said: “As a result of the findings, Wessex Water now wants the Government, its agencies and industry regulators to make catchment management the preferred method for lowering the levels of pesticides and nitrates entering drinking water sources.

“Costly treatment centres generally aren’t the best way to safeguard water supplies from nitrates and pesticides.

“Instead, we’ve found that in many areas, high water quality can be secured equally well by careful management of how and when farm chemicals are applied.

“This can also be achieved at much lower costs to the environment, our customers’ pockets, the company and our investors.”

Mr de Vial also calls on water regulator Ofwat to replace incentives for water companies to develop treatment-based solutions with rewards for lower cost, sustainable, catchment management schemes.

Luke Walsh

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