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Pesticides and Groundwater

The Groundwater Planning and Assessment Team supports and coordinates interagency efforts toward preventing and managing contamination of groundwater by pesticides.

TCEQ is the state lead agency for the protection of groundwater quality relative to pesticides. The Texas Department of AgricultureExit the TCEQ (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.

TGPC GWI Subcommittee Agricultural Chemicals Task Force

The Agricultural Chemicals Task Force of the Groundwater Issues Subcommittee (GWI) provides support to the Texas Groundwater Protection CommitteeExit the TCEQ (TGPC) in matters concerning actual and potential pesticide and other agricultural chemical contamination of groundwater. Participants can include government agencies, agricultural producer groups, environmental groups, the agricultural chemical industry, and other interested parties. Additional information about pesticides in groundwater can be found on the TGPC’s Pesticides webpage.

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Interagency Pesticide Database (IPD)

The TCEQ has compiled and maintains an in-house tool, the Interagency Pesticide Database (IPD), which contains pesticide groundwater monitoring data acquired from various agencies and other entities from across the state. The data is primarily from non-commercial sites and private water wells (which can not be shared with the public), and not from facilities subject to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The IPD Status Report identifies a number of inherent limitations within the IPD which precludes its release for public use.

The preferred methods for providing water quality data to the public are specified in the Texas Water Code, Sections 26.406 and 26.408 - through the annual Joint Groundwater Monitoring and Contamination Report (“Joint Report”), and Notification letters to private water well owners of possible groundwater contamination. The TCEQ Groundwater Contamination Viewer allows users to query and obtain spatial relationship information about groundwater contamination cases (including pesticides) as reported in some recent editions of the Joint Report.

For further information, see the IPD Map and IPD Status Report below, or e-mail gpat@tceq.texas.gov. Note that all of the maps are for informational purposes, only.

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Groundwater Monitoring for Pesticides

TCEQ staff conduct various monitoring activities related to pesticides in groundwater. Before monitoring begins each year, a groundwater monitoring plan is approved by the Agricultural Chemicals Task Force and presented to the TGPC GWI Subcommittee. Various types of monitoring include:

  • Cooperative screening for specific pesticides;
  • Investigative monitoring where higher pesticide concentrations are detected;
  • Follow-up monitoring for long-term trend assessment; and,
  • Targeted monitoring for specific types of pesticides in specific areas.

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 Adobe Acrobat PDF Document.

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State Pesticide Management Plan (PMP)

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 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.

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