In Worben, many years ago, measures were taken against pesticides in groundwater. Nevertheless, the poison is in the water.
Farmers use pesticides to control pests. One of them is chlorothalonil, which is used against mildew. From fields, it then reaches the ground and drinking water, where we take it.
This problem is known to the water companies. Many years ago, precautionary measures were taken in Worben BE to maintain drinking water. Approximately 200,000 square meters of land surrounding the groundwater intake belongs to the Seeland Water Supply (SWG) and is a protected area. No pesticides are used in this area.
However, Worben water contains more Chlorothalonil than is allowed. The Director General of Water Supply explains why the protection zone is not enough.
Director General SWG
Roman Wiget studied environmental engineering at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. He has been working at the SWG Seeländische Wasserversorgung since 2005. The SWG is responsible for the supply of drinking water and water for the extinction of twenty communities in the Bernese Seeland and several communities and contracting partners.
SRF News: How is it possible that Worben's groundwater is contaminated by chlorothalonil despite the protection zone?
Roman Wiget: The protection zone around the Worben underground water intake is wide, but the entire catchment area of this version is much larger. Chlorothalonil residues are landed from a distance.
But we can not buy more land and thus increase the protection zone. What is needed is an organic farming without pesticides.
Are you asking farmers to give up chlorothalonil?
Yes, farmers are needed. But they do not do anything forbidden. The use of these pesticides is allowed. Farmers must be encouraged to do without harmful pesticides. This requires adjustments in agricultural policy. Chlorothalonil should be banned in all cases.
The federal government has now determined in August that chlorothalonil should not exceed a certain value in drinking water – so it has already acted.
This measure is correct, but it only concerns us, the water supplier. And: This puts us under enormous pressure. We may now have to close heavily contaminated wells. But the problem – the use of chlorothalonil in agriculture – remains.
The township assured us that it prohibited chlorothalonil.
There you have to start. We have now made representations to the canton of Bern. This assured us that it banned chlorothalonil in the townships, the federal government should not pronounce a national ban.
The interview was conducted by Brigitte Mader.