Water companies have widely used Catchment management schemes to address diffuse pollution problems, including those caused by metaldehyde in their Asset Management Plans.
In a recent Joint Statement from the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), Environment Agency (EA) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), it was stated that the benefits to these catchment management approaches are many, as they address issues at source and provide a sustainable, long-term approach to managing diffuse pollution. The schemes are lauded for their benefit to the wider water environment, and because they reduce the need for additional water treatment.
Defra, the DWI and the EA will be closely monitoring the methods how water companies will be utilising to address metaldehyde contamination of raw water supplies during the current and next Asset Management Periods (AMP) as the development of Government policy is dependent on close work with the water industry and other stakeholders.
Further decisions on the approach required must be made soon, to inform the development of the Water Industry National Environment Programme, Water Resource Management Plans and water company business plans, as well as current commitments to drinking water quality improvement programmes.
Defra is currently working with the DWI and the EA on proposals for future metaldehyde control in time to allow planning for AMP7 which will draw on discussions with stakeholders to date and will include regulatory options but will also leave space for additional catchment management work.
Catchment Management will remain a vital component of any future approach to protecting waters, wildlife and people, both generally and specifically to reduce pesticide pollution, remembering that any decisions made will also affect the agricultural sector.
The decision by the British public to leave the European Union (EU) may bring about change in the long-term, but there will not be any immediate changes. The UK has a legal obligation to comply with all EU Directives (including the Drinking Water Directive and Water Framework Directive) and all associated rules and regulations while it is still legally a member of the EU. The status of EU Directives thereafter will depend on the outcome of the negotiations during the leaving process.