There were no exceedances for pesticides in the public drinking water supplies in Laois in 2022, Uisce Éireann has confirmed.
However, the utility is urging domestic gardeners, farmers, grounds keepers and other users of pesticide products to consider the environment and whether pesticide use is necessary in the first instance.
MCPA is still the most detected pesticide in drinking water sources and is present in many commonly used herbicide products used to control thistles, docks and rushes.
However, it often ends up in drinking water supplies. Uisce Éireann is asking users of any herbicide or pesticide products in Laois to consider the vulnerability of the water supplies to pesticide contamination and the importance of these supplies to the local homes and businesses in the community.
Uisce Éireann and the NPDWAG are asking the farming community, greenkeepers, grounds keepers, and domestic users of pesticides, to consider in each case whether they need to use pesticides at all.
Pesticides must only be used where strictly necessary and only after the possibility of using other control methods has been carefully considered.
Minimising pesticide use not only helps to protect water quality but also has multiple wider environmental benefits.
For example, leaving areas unsprayed can help native flowering plant species to grow and support a range of insects including bees and other vital pollinators.
One third of Ireland’s bee species are threatened with extinction and by helping the bee population survive and thrive we are also helping to protect our precious water sources.
Farmers should also bear in mind that the application of herbicides reduces sward species diversity and could negatively impact on payments through agri-environmental schemes.
Where pesticide use is considered necessary, the NPDWAG continues to work with local communities to ensure that best practice measures to protect drinking water sources and biodiversity are always followed.
Farmers and other landholders dealing with the challenge of rushes should note the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) guidance on the sustainable management of rushes.
This approach is based on the concepts of containment or suppression and aims to minimise the use of pesticides.
Welcoming the news, Senator Pippa Hackett said: “Water quality impacts on us from birth to old age and, together with the quality of the air we breathe and the soil we grow our food in, water is one of our most precious resources.
“There is an onus, and in many cases a legal responsibility, on all of us to protect it. While I am delighted to welcome the news that there were zero pesticide exceedances in Co Laois public drinking water in 2022, we must not take this for granted or become casual about it.
“If as a farmer or grounds keeper you feel that the use of pesticides is necessary I implore you to read and follow the instructions for their use and most importantly to ensure there is no risk to nearby water courses.
“If as a home owner you use pesticides and other toxic chemicals in your garden please ask yourself if they are really necessary.
“There are so many options to work with nature, and perhaps we all need to let go of our perception of what is ‘tidy’ in our gardens.
“A wonderful starting point is the book by Juanita Brown ‘Gardening for Biodiversity’ available free to download from Laois County Council.”
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