THE NSW Environment Protection Authority is investigating an incident of potential spray drift near Emigrant Creek Dam north of Ballina.
EPA regional operations manager for the North Coast, Brett Nudd, said the EPA started an investigation after a complaint was made in August highlighting concerns with pesticide application during strong winds.
“The EPA is investigating potential spray drift that has impacted on Emigrant Creek Dam and surrounds as a result of a farmer using the pesticide diazinon,” Mr Nudd said.
“The EPA, and Rous County Council whom operate the Emigrant Creek Dam, have taken water samples from the dam which supplies drinking water to the Ballina and Lennox Head areas.
“While these samples have detected diazinon in the dam, the levels of pesticide detected are well below the Australian Drinking Water Guideline.”
Rous County Council General Manager Kyme Lavelle said the filtration system at the dam is designed to address any pesticide contamination.
“As an added precaution Rous has ceased supply of water from this source and is currently testing its treated water to confirm that the filtration is successfully removing any pesticides,” Mr Lavelle said.
Director North Coast Public Health Unit, Mr Paul Corben also reminded local residents of the importance of maintaining first flush systems on rainwater tanks.
“After prolonged dry periods various contaminants can accumulate on roofs and gutters and it is important that residents prevent the build-up of contaminants from entering their rainwater tank. This can be achieved by using first flush systems or disconnecting the tank inlet,” Mr Corben said.
The EPA is continuing to investigate the incident and reminds anyone using pesticides to read product labels carefully, monitor local weather conditions and communicate with neighbours ahead of time to avoid spray drift incidents.
Anyone with a concern, or knowledge of a spray drift incident or pesticide misuse in their local area, should contact the Environment Line on 131 555.