The occurrence, concentrations, and loads of dissolved pesticides in storm runoff were compared for two contrasting land uses in the Tuolumne River Basin, California, during two different winter storms: agricultural areas (February 1994) and the Modesto urban area (February 1995). Both storms followed the main application period of pesticides on dormant almond orchards. Eight samples of runoff from agricultural areas were collected from a Tuolumne River site, and 10 samples of runoff from urban areas were collected from five storm drains. All samples were analyzed for 46 pesticides. Six pesticides were detected in runoff from agricultural areas, and 15 pesticides were detected in runoff from urban areas. Chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dacthal (DCPA), metolachlor, and simazine were detected in almost every sample. Median concentrations were higher in the runoff from urban areas for all pesticides except napropamide and simazine. The greater occurrence and concentrations in storm drains is partly attributed to dilution of agricultural runoff by nonstorm base-flow in the Tuolumne River and by storm runoff from nonagricultural and nonurban land. In most cases, the occurrence and relative concentrations of pesticides found in storm runoff from agricultural and urban areas were related to reported pesticide application.
Pesticide concentrations in runoff from agricultural areas were more variable during the storm hydrograph than were concentrations in runoff from urban areas. All peak pesticide concentrations in runoff from agricultural areas occurred during the rising limb of the storm hydrograph, whereas peak concentrations in the storm drains occurred at varying times during the storm hydrograph. Transport of pesticides from agricultural areas during the February 1994 storm exceeded transport from urban areas during the February 1995 storm for chlorpyrifos, diazinon, metolachlor, napropamide, and simazine. Transport of DCPA was about the same from agricultural and urban sources, and the main source of transport for the other pesticides could not be determined because of concentrations less than the method detection limit.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Pesticides in storm runoff from agricultural and urban areas in the Tuolumne River basin in the vicinity of Modesto, California
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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