Most householders that currently use pesticides are prepared to rethink their use in order to protect the environment, according to the National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS ).
The findings come from a recent survey held by NFGSW, which stated: "With mounting evidence of pesticide contamination of drinking water sources, damage to wider eco-systems and a biodiversity crisis, the survey suggests that most householders that currently use pesticides are prepared to rethink their use in order to protect the environment.
"The survey took place in national schools in Newport, and the survey was carried out in partnership with six other agencies and jointly funded by the NFGWS, Irish Water, Mayo County Council and the Local Authority Waters Programme.
"The initiative saw children in the Newport catchment bring the message home about the link between the protection of drinking water sources and the wider natural environment, and the dangers of pesticides to both.
"The survey garnered a good response and presented some interesting findings. With informational material taken home by children to their families, 96 per cent of respondents agreed that pesticide usage can negatively impact water quality and biodiversity.
"While 69 per cent of respondents asserted that they normally use pesticides in their gardens, 42 per cent expressed their intention to reduce usage, while 35 per cent said that they plan to stop using pesticides altogether.
"Interestingly, for those deciding to no longer use these products or who are planning to reduce their usage, 42% said their primary motivation was to protect bees and other pollinators, with 25 per cent citing the protection of their water source as the highest motivating factor."
Reacting to the survey’s findings, Joe Gallagher, the NFGWS representative on the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group, said: "As a society, we must rethink our attitude around the concept of “unwanted” vegetation. This will take time but in the interim, the survey illustrates the importance of providing an alternative strategy for controlling unwanted vegetation and ‘pests’ to those who use these products and the need to persuade people that a garden buzzing with biodiversity is far preferable to an overly tidy and sterile garden that is a desert for wildlife."
Dr Pat O’Sullivan, Irish Water’s Water Compliance Specialist, said: "Water source protection is everyone’s responsibility. In testing our drinking water, Irish Water has been finding detections of pesticides in some supplies, including Newport.
"While our consultations with the HSE have concluded that the levels seen to date do not represent a threat to public health, it is however undesirable.
"Pesticide use impacts on our water quality, our biodiversity — especially pollinators — and potentially our health. It is imperative that users of pesticides and herbicides, whether it be at home, on the farm, in the sports club or public amenity, only use pesticides as a last resort."
Tom Carolan from The Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO ), said: "The reduction of the use of pesticides in our gardens and public spaces is very welcome, it helps to protect the bees and in turn protect the sources of our drinking water.
"Well done to the children, parents and teachers in supporting this initiative. We need to continue to allow nature back into our gardens; if we do so the bees will be happy, and so will our own health and wellbeing."