There are many things that enter our waterways that we have to clean out. One of the worst things is pesticides. They not only contaminate our water, but they are harmful to animals. It enters our water sources by seeping through the soil to groundwater or entering streams as surface run-off. Farmers and other workers try to keep our water safe from pesticides, but it is a very hard and stressful job. Let’s take a look at the ways that pesticides enter our water and also some possible solutions for this problem.
What exactly is a pesticide? “A pesticide is a chemical used to prevent, destroy, or repel pests” (EPA). There are many different pests. Some examples are the termites that cause damage to our homes, dandelions in our yards, and fleas on our pets. Almost all pesticides contain chemicals that can be harmful to people, animals, or the environment. Many common products that we use in and around our homes every day are considered pesticides. Things such as mosquito sprays, rat poisons, cockroach sprays and baits, flea and tick sprays, and cleaners used to disinfect the kitchen floor. A lot of the time, pesticides are used on farmers’ crops to make sure insects do not eat away their plants. All these items, and even more are considered to be pesticides. They can poison fish and wildlife, contaminate food sources, and destroy the habitat that animals use for protective cover (EPA).
Agricultural runoff is water from cropland or livestock operations that flows into a body of water. It does not have one direct source that it comes from, and that is why it is hard to control. Scientists call that a diffuse source of pollution. It is the number one category of nonpoint source pollution (NPS) in rivers and lakes. Non-point source is in contrast to point source pollution, which comes from a specific place such as a pipe or smokestack. Point source pollution can be easily measured or stopped because it comes from a specific place or thing, but non-point source comes from a spread out area so it is not easily measured or stopped (ExtoxNet). Agricultural land is a huge source of drinking water contamination, mostly because of current and former agricultural practices. Some of the practices are: over fertilization, which is combining the use of fertilizer and manure. May I remind you, that pesticides are in fertilizer? Another practice is crop specialization, which is the use of large quantities of pesticides to maintain the productivity of a single type of crop. Even another practice that contributes to drinking water contamination is the lack of crop rotation. Crop rotation is where farmers alternate the type of crop planted each year, which helps the soil quality, allowing them to use less fertilizer, which would also use fewer pesticides. If some farmers fail to do this each year, it would contribute to drinking water contamination because of the use of too many pesticides (ExtoxNet).
“The United States has more than 330 million acres of...