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Modern agriculture uses insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other chemicals to control pests and maximize crop yields. Pesticides are also used on lawns, golf courses, in mosquito control programs and in other ways in an effort to make our lives better. 

Even though pesticides are an important part of modern lifestyles these chemicals can be significant water pollution if used improperly or at rates in excess of recommended rates. They can also contaminate soil, destroy non-target populations and be detrimental to humans and pets who come into contact with them.

Pesticide contamination of water has been an issue in the watershed for many years. In fact, the Delaware River Watershed became the first inland Pesticide Management Area (PMA) in 1992 after high levels of the herbicide Atrazine were found in lakes.  Atrazine can pose a threat to drinking water supplies and aquatic species. New rules that came into effect after the PMA was established and the diminished use of Atrazine overall has resulted in reduced concentrations of the herbicide in water samples in recent years. Although this is good news, other pesticides can often be detected in water samples.

What you can do . . .
  • Use pesticides according to label directions -- More isn't always better. It is very important to apply pesticides at or below recommended rates and according to label directions. Over-applying chemicals not only costs more but poses a significant threat to water quality, wildlife and human health.
  •  Don't apply pesticides in close proximity to water or before heavy rain is expected.
  • Use alternatives to pesticides whenever possible -- There are many ways to control pests that don't involve toxic chemicals.  Less toxic pesticides that will accomplish the same level of pest control or which pose a lower threat to water may also be available.  Contact your local County Extension Office for more information and check out the Library section of this website for ideas on pesticide alternatives.