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Pesticides Found in Oregon Drinking Water
(April 10, 2003)

Testing by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality recently found pesticides in groundwater wells in Willamette Valley, according to The Oregonian. The DEQ tested 100 wells outside of incorporated cities, between Salem and Eugene. Sixty of the wells were found to be contaminated with trace amounts of pesticides. The testing was done as part of a larger, ongoing study of Oregon's water quality. Researchers hope that the results will point officials to the source of pesticide contamination, where and how it enters the groundwater system.

An estimated 4.5 millions pounds of pesticides are used per year in the area for agricultural and urban uses. Infiltration of rain and irrigation help to transport the pesticides into groundwater. In the past, high concentrations of nitrate were also found in Oregon wells at levels exceeding the limit for public drinking water (greater than 10 parts per million). Although nitrate is beneficial for aquatic life, the excessive presence due to fertilizer use is detrimental.

Efforts are underway in other parts of the country to remediate this problem. Legislation was recently proposed in Michigan to limit pesticide contamination of groundwater. Beyond Pesticides covered this story in the March 27th edition of Daily News, which can be found at http://www.beyondpesticides.org/news/daily.htm.

For more information from the U.S. Geological Survey regarding pesticides in Oregon's groundwater, please see http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/circ/circ1161/nawqa91.8.html. For information about nitrate in groundwater in Oregon, see http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/circ/circ1161/nawqa91.7.html. Oregon's DEQ summarizes the state's water quality at: http://www.deq.state.or.us/wq/groundwa/GWCondx.pdf.

Please contact Beyond Pesticides for more information about pesticides in groundwater.