Limited chlorothalonil residues in water: municipalities in trouble – rts.ch

Limited chlorothalonil residues in water: municipalities in trouble – rts.ch
Limited chlorothalonil residues in water: municipalities in trouble – rts.ch

Chlorothalonil residues are once again officially limited in tap water in Switzerland. A measure which could put in difficulty municipalities and distributors whose water would, overnight, no longer comply with the law. This is the case of Payerne. Its trustee, Eric Küng, takes stock in the program We talk about it.

On May 14, 2024, the broadcasts On en parole and A bon entendeur revealed the presence of residues of the pesticide chlorothalonil in Henniez mineral water and in the town’s tap water. There was then some vagueness around the legal limit for the presence of these residues in water.

But since May 22, the Confederation, via its Office of Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs (OSAV), has once again been able to communicate recommendations on chlorothalonil and its potentially dangerous nature for health. The appeal of Syngenta, the Basel agrochemical group, was in fact mostly rejected by the Federal Administrative Court. Limits for tap water have been set in a new directive.

>> Read also: Syngenta dismissed by the TAF in its dispute with the Confederation over chlorothalonil

The content of pesticide residues must not exceed 0.1 microgram per substance, or metabolite, and 0.5 microgram for the sum of all substances. These standards must be applied within two years by all municipalities. The situation is now delicate for tap water in many municipalities in the Swiss Plateau.

Municipalities in embarrassment

In 2020, the programs On en parole and ABE carried out a tap water assessment in 15 municipalities across French-speaking Switzerland. In four of them, the chlorothalonil limit was exceeded: Estavayer (FR), Domdidier (FR), Chavornay (VD) and Payerne (VD), where chlorothalonil residues exceeded the legal limit by more than ten times.

>> Also consult:: The water in several French-speaking municipalities does not comply with the chlorothalonil standard

Eric Küng, trustee of Payerne, takes stock in the program We talk about it on May 24, 2024: “Regarding tap water, the situation has not improved, chlorothalonil residues in the water are rising at 7 times the standard so we did tests regarding the type of activated carbon that we should use to treat the water and reduce the quantity of pesticides. With the water dispensers, we will filter it.

A treatment that has a cost

The system will have to be extended to the entire water distribution network of Payerne and neighboring communities. A filtering station will also have to be built. A project that will cost several million.

For consumers in Payerne, water risks becoming more expensive. “An association distributes water in the region. For the moment, the cubic meter costs 1.70 francs. With the future work planned, we will go well beyond 2 francs,” specifies the trustee.

And the polluter pays principle? “I would like us to be able to clean up this water and reassure the population, while limiting costs for the community,” replies Eric Küng. So should Syngenta pay? “Yes. For me, pollution begins with the company. In the meantime, we must find a solution. I think that the municipalities and distributors will expect possible funding from the Confederation and the cantons in order to be able to build these filtering stations .”

Radio subject: Mathieu Truffer and Bastien von Wyss

Web adaptation: Myriam Semaani

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