Organophosphate insecticides, including chlor- pyrifos, diazinon, and methidathion, are applied to dormant orchards in the San Joaquin Valley, California, during late December through January. This time frame coincides with the period of heaviest rainfall in the valley, and rainfall mobilizes a portion of these pesticides from the orchards. The pesticides enter the San Joaquin River and have been detected along the perennial reach of the river. A storm on the evening of February 7 and the morning of February 8, 1993, deposited more than an inch and a half of rain in the San Joaquin Valley. Two distinct peaks of organophosphate pesticide concentrations were measured at the mouth of the San Joaquin River during a single rise in discharge. Both peaks were attributed to contrasts between the soil texture and hydrology of the eastern and western valley. The fine soil texture and small size of the western tributary basins contributed to rapid runoff. Diazinon concentrations peaked within hours after rainfall ended and then decreased because of a combination of dilution with pesticide-free runoff from the nearby Coast Ranges and decreased pesticide concentrations in the agricultural runoff. Data for the Merced River, a large tributary of the eastern San Joaquin Valley, are sparse, but indicate that peak concentrations occurred at least a day after those of the western tributary streams. That delay may be due to the presence of well-drained soils, the larger size of the drainage basins, and the management of surface-water drainage networks. Runoff from a subsequent storm, on February 18 and 19, contained significantly lower concentrations of most organophosphate pesticides, indicating that runoff from the first storm had already removed most of the pesticides available for rainfall-induced transport.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Nonpoint sources of pesticides in the San Joaquin River, California; input from winter storms, 1992-93
U.S. Geological Survey ;
U.S.G.S. Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],