Pesticides in Upstate New York's Ground Water:
These world wide web materials are published to help
organizations who are interested in monitoring ground water for pesticides. They are
a detailed companion to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's
annual pesticide sales and
use reports. The DEC funds and oversees Cornell's ground water sampling.
Pesticides were discovered in many
Long Island wells in 1979, which warned the US that pesticide use
restrictions then in place were not sufficiently protective of ground
water in vulnerable locations. Since then, federal and state pesticide
use regulation has changed to minimize the potential leaching and
migration of both pesticides and their often-toxic metabolites (or
degradation products). Residues from the persistent 1970’s
vintage pesticides are still found in Long Island ground water, but
newer pesticides seem to be rare in most New York ground water.
New York's pesticide regulator, the
State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC),
commissioned the US Geological Survey to monitor pesticides in
surface water. This work in the 1990's, which used highly sensitive
analytical and field methods, found
widespread traces of
several popular pesticides. Fortunately these were at very low levels, almost never
exceeding drinking water or environmental standards. Since these
findings occurred in streams at low flow (representing baseflow, water which may have recently emerged from underground), there was a suspicion that upstate
ground water might also be vulnerable to potential contamination.
At the request of the NYS DEC's Bureau
of Pesticides Management, Cornell
University and partners have carried out a research program monitoring pesticides in
selected upstate private wells since 2002. (Suffolk County monitors
wells on Long Island.) These WWW pages provide an overview of
Cornell’s approach and results, and will be updated as ongoing
research is carried out in additional areas.
Cornell’s work proceeds one county
per fiscal year, and we work in close cooperation with local agencies,
primarily Soil and Water Conservation Districts as well as Water
Quality Coordinating Committees and local health departments. We select
counties for combinations of high ground water use, significant
pesticide use,vulnerability of aquifers, availability of private wells to sample, and interested county partners.
As of early 2010, counties that have served as study sites include Cortland
(our pilot effort), Schenectady,
Genesee, and Wayne.
Sampling and analytical work are complete in five counties, and sample analysis is underway for Wayne county.
Results have been encouraging so far, with none of 200 wells
tested to date exceeding any drinking water or environmental standard for
pesticides. (Some wells do have high nitrate.)
This research is carried out by the
Biological and Environmental Engineering's Soil & Water Group, with input from the
Water Resources Institute. Cornell’s
Management Education Program maintains
the statewide database of pesticide sales and use for NYS DEC, which
provides essential data for this effort. Other interested groups
include the US
Geological Survey and the
York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee.
Resources at this web site include
county summaries (see links in right column), completed county reports,
and briefing presentations. County summaries and reports are added
as work is completed. As of early 2010, reports are available for
Cortland, Schenectady and Orange Counties. Reports should be available in
2010 for Cayuga, and Genesee Counties.
Next: Statewide overview.