Following a pesticide pollution incident in 2012, Anglian Water’s Water Treatment Works (WTW) in Winterton were taken out of operation. Six years on and the site has reopened thanks to an innovative, multi-party approach with catchment management and collaboration at its heart.
In November 2012, routine sampling by Anglian Water of two boreholes at Winterton WTW in North Lincolnshire, detected traces of two ingredients commonly used in pesticides. The boreholes were immediately taken out of use and an interim solution to source drinking water from an alternative supply was put into place.
Pesticide pollution is one of the biggest risks to water quality because some of them, like Metaldehyde, traditionally used for killing slugs, and Clopyralid used to control weeds are extremely difficult to remove via traditional water treatment methods. This part of the country is often referred to as the ‘bread basket’ of England- agriculture covers three quarters of our region and weed and slug management is a key part of ensuring high yields.
Drinking Water standards state that no individual pesticide will exceed 0.1µg/l (0.1ppb); this is an extremely small amount and equates to a single stem of hay in 111,000 bales, or 1 grain of wheat in 390 tonnes.
Up to 70% of pesticide losses found in rivers can be attributed to pesticide handling areas in the farm yard and upon investigations, the likely source of the pollution at Winterton was a single capful of Clopyralid spilt in a farm yard.
Anglian Water has adopted an innovative, catchment management approach working with 7 local farmers to improve the pesticide handling facilities within farm yards. The work has focused on ensuring spills and drips are contained and that pollution risk is managed at its source by preventing it from entering the water in the first place.
Kelly Hewson-Fisher is part of the agricultural team at Anglian Water and led the catchment management approach with the farmers: “Our motto is healthy crops, healthy water – we wanted to find a solution which all parties were happy with and really bought into.
“We identified the farmers we needed to work with and then funded the development of a pesticide filling and handling area that ensures pesticides are contained. It’s a bunded area where farmers can fill up the sprayer which then uses biofilters or biobeds for treatment.
“This collaborative approach has helped us to reopen Winterton WTW. We are working with the University of Lincoln to set up a demonstration site which farmers can visit to look at the on farm treatment options available such as biofilter, biobed and Heliosec. This should be open later this year.”
Anglian Water’s CEO, Peter Simpson, attended the site to formally reopen the water treatment works.