Call to cut fertiliser use to reduce water nitrate

Sea lettuce
Image caption It is thought the green sea lettuce that covered Jersey's beaches in early 2015 was caused by nitrates in the water

Nitrate levels in Jersey's water need to be reduced, according to the environment minister.

Deputy Steve Luce has called on farmers and landowners to cut the use of fertiliser, which can increase nitrate levels, by up to 10%.

Nitrate is a form of nitrogen that is a natural part of soil and groundwater.

Long-term exposure to high levels of nitrate can cause stomach cancer, thyroid problems and blue baby syndrome.

Using fertilisers can increase levels and tests have shown nitrate levels in Jersey drinking water are higher than recommended.

In Jersey it is estimated about 4,000 homes with boreholes and wells have a water supply higher than the EU and Island limit of 50mg per litre for nitrates.

Green weed

Levels in mains water, which has been treated, also regularly exceeded the limit in the last 14 years.

Deputy Luce said he was working with farmers and Jersey Water to tackle the problem but has also called on home owners to think twice before using fertiliser.

He said: "Private and public drinking water supplies, recreational water use, fisheries and shellfish production, and of course the 'green weed' problem are all affected by nitrate levels."

President of the Jersey Farmers' Union Graham Le Lay, said he would continue to work with the States in reducing nitrate levels.

He said: "The environment minister can rest assured that the Jersey Farmers' Union will continue to encourage and assist farmers in finding ways to reduce nitrate fertiliser use.

"We would urge him to take immediate steps to make all land users aware that they too have to reduce their use of both inorganic and organic fertilisers on their allotments, vegetable gardens and lawns."

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