1996 August: Macquarie Valley. Pesticide detected: Endosulfan

Alarm Over River Pesticide Levels

Sun Herald Saturday August 10, 1996

By HEATH GILMORE Environment Reporter

CHEMICALS linked to liver disease and human hormone level changes have been found in growing concentrations in major NSW rivers.

The Central and North-West Water Quality program showed pesticide levels had increased in the Namoi River and remained stable in the Gwydir and Macquarie Valley.

All sites within the survey area during the November to March spraying season failed to meet Australia and New Zealand Environment Consultative Council ecosystem guidelines for the pesticide Endosulfan.

This chemical is possibly the most widely used in cotton, sunflower, soybean and oilseed crop production and has been linked to liver disease and changing human hormone levels.

The study also found fish kills in the rivers had been linked to insecticides and herbicides in the region. Cotton farmers had financially supported the scientific analysis of water pollutants since 1990.

Land and Water Conservation Minister Kim Yeadon said this year’s results showed a continuing problem with water quality.

“The results of this study show we cannot be complacent about the way pesticides and nutrients are used,” Mr Yeadon said.

“There has been no decrease in levels of pesticides in the rivers which are studied and it showed the enormous loss of valuable top soil that occurs in storms.

“Most farmers are aware of the challenge and how they can help by the wise use of agricultural chemicals and fertilisers, the erosion control measures they take and by adopting techniques which minimise the use of water.”

National Parks Association president Anne Reeves said the latest survey findings were disturbing. She said the impact on the surrounding ecology was of great concern.

“Our rivers in these regions are already in strife and empty into important areas, such as the Macquarie Marshes,” she said.

“This report shows that we have to lift our games further.”

This report shows we have to lift our games further