Pesticides in Streams in Central Nebraska

Fact Sheet 232-95




Contamination of surface and ground water from non-point sources is a national issue. Examples of nonpoint-source contaminants from agricultural activities are pesticides, which include fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides; sediment; nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus); and fecal bacteria. Of these contaminants, pesticides receive the most attention because of the potential toxicity to aquatic life and to humans. Most farmers use pesticides to increase crop yields and values. Herbicides prevent or inhibit the growth of weeds that compete for nutrients and moisture needed by the crops. Herbicides are applied before, during, or following planting. In addition to agricultural use, herbicides are used in urban areas, often in larger rates of application, for weed control such as among rights-of-way. Alachlor, atrazine, cyanazine, and metolachlor, which are referred to as organonitrogen herbicides, were the four most commonly applied herbicides (1991) in the Central Nebraska Basins (CNB). These herbicides are used for corn, sorghum, and soybean production. Atrazine was the most extensively applied pesticide (1991) in central Nebraska. Insecticides are used to protect the crop seeds in storage prior to planting and also to protect the plants from destruction once the seeds have germinated. Like herbicides, insecticides are also used in urban areas to protect lawns, trees, and ornamentals. Many of the 46 pesticides shown in the table have either a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of Health Advisory Level (HAL) established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for public water supplies. The purposes of this Fact Sheet are to (1) to provide water-utility managers, water-resources planners and managers, and State regulators an improved understanding of the distributions of concentrations of pesticides in streams and their relation to respective drinking-water regulations or criteria, and (2) to describe concentrations of pesticides in streams draining a selected small agricultural basin and a large agricultural area.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Pesticides in Streams in Central Nebraska
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
U.S. Geological Survey
4 p.
United States