Pesticides and Groundwater
TCEQ is the state lead agency for the protection of groundwater quality relative to pesticides. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is the state lead agency in the regulation of pesticide use and application, including the licensing of applicators who make pesticide applications in and around structures.
The TCEQ Groundwater Planning and Assessment Team's pesticide staff are responsible for various aspects of groundwater protection from pesticides, including:
- Agricultural Chemicals Subcommittee
- Interagency Pesticide Database
- Groundwater Monitoring for Pesticides
- Public Education and Outreach, and
- State Pesticide Management Plan (PMP) for Groundwater Protection
The Agricultural Chemicals Subcommittee (ACS) is a Subcommittee of the Texas Groundwater Protection Committee (TGPC) that meets quarterly. The ACS provides support to the TGPC in matters concerning actual and potential pesticide and other agricultural chemical contamination of groundwater. Participants include government agencies, agricultural producer groups, environmental groups, the agricultural chemical industry, and other interested parties.
The TCEQ has compiled and maintains a database, the IPD, which contains pesticide groundwater monitoring data acquired from various agencies and other entities from across the state. The high cost of monitoring water quality state-wide has necessitated that groundwater data from all available sources be collected in one centralized location. The data is primarily from non-commercial sites and not from facilities subject to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). For further information, see the IPD Map and Draft IPD Report below, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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TCEQ staff are responsible for various monitoring activities related to pesticides in groundwater. Before monitoring begins each year, a groundwater monitoring plan is drafted. The following types of monitoring are performed, as needed:
- The state's groundwater is monitored for background (ambient) presence of pesticides.
- Investigative monitoring is performed in areas surrounding wells found to have concentrations of pesticides near or above a benchmark level for that pesticide. The area is studied to determine potential sources, pathways, and processes that may have led to the contamination.
- Follow-up monitoring is carried out on previously investigated wells where concentrations of pesticides continue at levels which warrant on-going monitoring for long-term trend assessment.
The data from the various pesticide groundwater monitoring activities is compiled and maintained in the IPD and reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under grant requirements. One useful tool has been immunoassay (IA) screening in conjunction with cooperative monitoring - a summary of this approach and how it can be useful in other programs is available. (PDF)
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The TCEQ contributes to public education and outreach as opportunities arise. For example:
- Presentations are given on monitoring activities, the IPD, and data assessments at various venues such as the TCEQ's annual Environmental Trade Fair, state and national groundwater forums, agricultural stakeholder conferences, and ACS meetings.
- Data, funding, and technical support are provided to other agencies or research entities in order to prepare curricula, educational materials, or fact sheets related to groundwater protection from pesticides.
- Educational and outreach support is provided through participation in the Public Outreach and Education Subcommittee of the TGPC, including several Frequently Asked Questions related to pesticide monitoring in urban and rural areas of the state.
It is TCEQ's policy to help ensure maintenance of the state's groundwater and surface water quality, through planning, education, and cooperation with other state agencies and the public and private sectors. The TCEQ's Groundwater Planning and Assessment Team provides support towards this end, including the implementation of programs aimed at the prevention and assessment of groundwater contamination by pesticides.
A plan entitled Texas State Management Plan for Prevention of Pesticide Contamination of Groundwater, has been developed which describes the general policies and regulatory approaches the state will use in order to protect groundwater resources from risk of contamination by pesticides. The plan outlines a mechanism to coordinate all responsible and participating agencies in the implementation of specific responses for any given circumstance of pesticide contamination of groundwater. The PMP reflects the state's philosophy toward groundwater protection and recognizes the importance of agricultural resources to the state's economy.