Stop and think about the water you drink – use pesticides responsibly

Tuesday, 9 July, 2013

The Water Catchment Partnership* has been established to help address significant water quality issues in Northern Ireland.  Our aim is to proactively work together to promote and raise awareness of best practice when using pesticides in the garden or on the farm, through a voluntary approach to improve water quality.  Pesticides include herbicides, weedkillers, fungicides and insecticides. Our initial focus is in the Derg catchment and if the project is successful the scheme will be rolled out to other drinking water catchments. 

One of the key messages is to take extreme care and adopt best practice when using and disposing of chemicals and pesticides.  Research shows that almost 50% of spills occur when filling or washing out a sprayer or container.  Did you know that even a single drop of pesticide entering a river can cause water quality problems up to 30km downstream? 

The Voluntary Initiative has published a new leaflet focussing on grassland weed control and protecting the water environment.  Copies of the Grassland weed control – A best practice guide to controlling weeds and protecting the environment – can be obtained from Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) Offices, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) , Northern Ireland Water (NIW), College of Agriculture, Food & Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) or can be downloaded from the VI website:

Comprehensive advice on all aspects of using pesticides is contained in DARD’s Code of Practice for Plant Protection Products. It explains how to use plant protection products safely and so meet the legal conditions which cover their use. A summary A3 wall chart has also been produced to accompany the Code and provides users with a quick reference guide. Both documents can be downloaded from the Department’s website: or obtained from DARDNI by phoning 028 90524544.

Representatives from the Water Catchment Partnership will be attending and hosting a number events and are planning a series of farm visits in the Derg catchment area to raise awareness and provide best practice guidance on grassland pesticide use.  The Partnership welcomes your cooperation and support to the long term delivery of high quality drinking water.

*The Water Catchment partnership is a working partnership established from representatives from Ulster Farmers Union, Northern Ireland Water, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and DARD’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise. The aim of which is to deliver one message incorporating the ethos from all organisations to effectively tackle the problem of pesticides in the water environment particularly in Drinking Water areas.