|Surface and groundwater resources in Tasmania are used for the provision of drinking, domestic and commercial use (e.g. town water supplies, aquaculture etc), stock watering and irrigation for agricultural activities.|
Pesticides can enter our surface and groundwater either through surface runoff after rain, spray drift during application or moving down through the soil into groundwater.
Poor management in the use, application and storage of pesticides can harm human and environmental health and have negative implications for Tasmania’s agricultural and aquacultural industries.
To effectively manage Tasmania’s water as a safe reliable resource then monitoring is required as a means to assess and inform those who manage Tasmania’s water resources (ie government, industry, water authorities) as to the effectiveness of their management practices and strategies.
In 2005 DPIPWE implemented the Pesticide Water Monitoring Program (PWMP) as a means to increase knowledge and understanding as to the nature and extent of pesticide contamination in Tasmania. This was in response to significant community concern regarding chemical contamination from agricultural and silvicultural activities in surface and ground water resources that are utilised for drinking water, aquacultural purposes.
The program informs a targeted compliance and audit program (Spray Information and Referral Unit – SIRU) by identifying areas at risk of potential contamination. The program also provides relevant data to those regulatory bodies and industries responsible for the management of Tasmania’s water resources. This includes but is not restricted to some of the following:
- Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
- Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
The program undergoes periodic review to ensure that it continues to be relevant to program objectives. This includes minor (annual) and major (every 4-5 years) updates. These updates may include changes to how, when and where sites are monitored and what pesticides are monitored. Recent modifications to the program were implemented in September 2011. A more targeted approach to the location of monitoring sites and the types of pesticides sampled was taken. This enables prioritisation of catchments and regions where data indicates a potential contaminant issue for ongoing frequent, and in some cases intensive short-term monitoring.
A report detailing program overview and modifications is available. See The ASCHEM Pesticide Water Monitoring Program - Modifications to Monitoring.
The program is comprised of three separate monitoring components. Each component is designed to monitor for pesticides on different spatial (where) and temporal (when) scales to assist DPIPWE to understand and manage the use and application of pesticides across Tasmania.
Pesticides monitored are based on some of the following characteristics:
- The Routine Monitoring Program involves sampling every two months at a number of locations across Tasmania. This component is the main mechanism that indicates the nature and extent of pesticide contamination in Tasmania. Identified regions at risk of chemical incursions may then be subject to further intensive monitoring either through the Spray Information and Referral Unit (SIRU) and /or the targeted monitoring component of this program.
- The Targeted Monitoring component provides short term intensive surveys as a means to assess the extent and nature of chemical contamination on a sub-catchment scale. These studies are based on information received either through the routine monitoring program, chemical audits, and investigations that warrants a greater focus on monitoring. Targeted monitoring provides a greater opportunity to obtain a better understanding as to the nature and extent of chemical contamination in the region.
- The Groundwater Monitoring component provides an annual snapshot at eleven (11) sites based on their use as drinking water supply and sites with a history of pesticide contamination.
- Being representative of a group of widely used pesticides in Tasmanian agriculture and/or forestry.
- Propensity to be mobile.
- Common usage on various crops.
- Combinations of persistence and toxicology.
The current list includes:
The following files detail site localities for Routine Monitoring and are available for download in PDF and Google Earth format:
Water samples are analysed utilising both Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) and Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) technologies.
LC-MS will look for a specific pesticide that is in its dissolved form in water.
GC-MS is non specific and tests for a broad range of pesticides, not just those that have been targeted for analysis. This technique enables us to potentially “see” more in a sample than what has been requested as part of routine analysis. In the past this has helped identify chemicals that were unknown in their use in some catchments and assist in making an informed decision as to modifications to the list of chemicals targeted in routine monitoring.
Data is reported against human health and environmental guidelines. These being;
More detail regarding the guidelines and how data is reported is available on our Guidelines page.
- Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011 (ADWG)
- Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality 2000 (ANZECC).
An historical overview of all the data is available on the Program Findings page.
Information and data for each monitoring component is available on the following pages: