Council's Environmental Health Team in collaboration with the Mid North Coast Local Health District and with involvement from NSW Environment Protection Authority conducted an assessment of private drinking water tanks in close proximity to intensive plant agriculture operations (IPA). This was in response to increasing complaints from residents alleging pesticide spray drift and concern with potential health issues.
The study commenced in 2017 and concluded in June 2019.
Water from 23 private rainwater tanks was sampled and 71 samples were collected in total during the study.
- Detected six different agricultural pesticides in ten of the 71 rainwater tank samples across six different rainwater tanks.
- Showed that all levels of detected pesticides were below the Australian Drinking Water Guideline values (or an international equivalent where there was no ADWG guideline value), so all water tested was considered safe for human consumption.
- Detected the presence of pesticides in private rainwater tanks which may indicate that off-site movement is occurring. However, further studies would be required to validate the source of the pesticides detected.
Where pesticides were found, the EPA was notified as the agency responsible in NSW for regulating pesticide use under the Pesticides Act 1999.
Council will be writing to all NSW State Agencies that have an interest or responsibility in pesticide use and its potential impacts - including the NSW Environment Protection Authority, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and Mid North Coast Local Health District - requesting they consider further research and review regulation.
A copy of the report can be accessed below.
Final Report - Assessment of Drinking Water Tanks in Close Proximity to Intensive Plant Agriculture in the Coffs Harbour LGA 2017 - 2019