South East Water’s anonymous pesticide amnesty hailed a success

Posted: Monday 20th May 2019

An anonymous pesticide amnesty sponsored by South East Water has enabled the safe removal of over a tonne of unused and out-of-date pesticides from farms in Kent.

Pesticides can pose a serious threat to water resources if they are stored and disposed of incorrectly. Between October and November 2018, South East Water, with the support of Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF), offered a pesticide amnesty in its River Teise surface water catchment and Pembury and Hartlake groundwater catchments, to facilitate the anonymous safe disposal of pesticides from farmers and land managers.

Over the period, more than a tonne of agricultural chemicals were collected from 23 farms across the three catchments. If these chemicals were released into the environment there would be a significant risk to water quality, requiring the water company to either use expensive treatment processes to remove the contamination or potentially close a vital drinking water source.

During the amnesty 901kg of chemicals handed over were pesticides or other agricultural substances, 57kg of which were no longer approved for use in the UK.

Debbie Wilkinson, South East Water’s National Environment Programme RSA Investigations and Groundwater Catchment Management Lead, said: “We’re delighted with the success of this pesticide amnesty.

“Although we successfully remove chemicals from raw water before it’s put into supply, it’s a much more sustainable and cost-effective solution to work with farmers to reduce the chances of pesticides entering our water resources in the first place.”

James Woodward, CSF Officer, said: “We understand that pesticides are essential in modern farming and we know that farmers in Kent are keen to do all they can to store and use them responsibly and correctly. By helping farmers to safely dispose of these chemicals once they are redundant, we’re ensuring they won’t ever find their way into watercourses which could affect drinking water quality, or cause damage to the environment.

“We work closely with the farming community to raise awareness of the risks to the environment and encourage people to carefully check sheds and outbuildings for out-of-date or illegal stocks of chemicals.”

This recent amnesty follows a similarly successful campaign that South East Water ran in 2017 in partnership with Affinity Water and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust in the River Lodden surface water catchment. That campaign recovered over 980kg of agricultural chemicals from 20 farms.

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April 2021

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