The ‘Slug it Out’ campaign
Lead Organisation/s: Anglian Water
The Slug it Out campaign is aimed at reducing the levels of the slug control pesticide ‘Metaldehyde’ in the region’s waters before they reach Anglian Water’s treatment works. Every year, Anglian Water spends substantial amounts of money removing pesticides from drinking water at their treatment works – this raises customers’ bills and wastes energy.
Although harmless to humans, Metaldehyde is very difficult to remove at water treatment works and meeting tough EU targets on it is a real challenge for the region. The regulatory level of Metaldehyde stipulated by the European Union’s Water Framework Directive is 0.1 micrograms per litre (or parts per billion) in treated water. This is the same as one drop in an Olympic sized swimming pool. Levels in reservoirs in the Welland Catchment regularly exceed this and removing it is not currently possible.
The Slug it Out campaign runs across several Anglian river catchments and involved 216 farmers covering 22,500 hectares by 2017. As part of the campaign, Anglian Water are working with farmers to incentivise the use of alternative slug control chemicals, and to stop the use of Metaldehyde. As such, farmers receive payments to cover their costs of alternative control methods.
Alongside this, Anglian Water’s new team of Catchment Advisors are talking to farmers and agronomists about how they can help reduce the amount of Metaldehyde in our rivers and reservoirs. Their aim is to help farmers do this in a way that fits into their business. A failure to tackle Metaldehyde levels in our water now will inevitably result in additional regulation being forced on farmers further down the line, affecting individual farm businesses and the industry as a whole. This new Catchment Management approach is a proactive, responsible way of improving the water in our rivers and reservoirs while protecting our customers, our farming community and our environment. In the Welland catchment, the Anglian Water Catchment Advisors are Joanne Pollock (Upper Welland) and Becky Carter (Lower Welland).
As of 2018, the Slug it Out campaign has now moved into its third year of delivery, and has contributed to a 94% reduction in metaldehyde levels so far.