The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta) is the hub of California’s water system and also an important habitat for imperiled fish and wildlife. Aquatic organisms are exposed to mixtures of pesticides that flow through the maze of Delta water channels from sources including agricultural, landscape, and urban pest-control applications. While we do not know all of the effects pesticides have on the ecosystem, there is evidence that they cause some damage to organisms in the Delta.
Decades of USGS research have provided a good understanding of when, where, and how pesticides enter the Delta. However, pesticide use is continually changing. New field studies and methods are needed so that scientists can analyze which pesticides are present in the Delta, and at what concentrations, enabling them to estimate exposure and ultimate effects on organisms. Continuing research will provide resource managers and stakeholders with crucial information to manage the Delta wisely.