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DPR Schedules Workshops for Ground Water Protection


California Department of Pesticide Regulation
News Release 
November 25, 1998 (98-35)

(News editors: Note time element in second
paragraph.)

DPR Schedules Workshops for Ground Water
Protection

SACRAMENTO -- Cal/EPA's Department of
Pesticide Regulation will hold two public
workshops in December to discuss proposed
changes in DPR's ground water protection
program.

The first workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to
noon on December 15 at the Fresno County
Agricultural Commissioner's Office conference
room, 1730 S. Maple Avenue, Fresno. The
second workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to
noon on December 17 at the Yolo County
Agricultural Commissioner's Office (Norton
Hall), 70 Cottonwood Street, Woodland.

*These workshops will introduce proposals to
improve and enhance our ability to prevent
ground water contamination from pesticides,*
said DPR Director James W. Wells. *In the
past decade, we have collected an enormous
amount of data on ground water. With this data,
 we are better able to predict how climate, soil
type, and a pesticide's chemical and physical
properties contribute to ground water
contamination. All this lays the scientific
foundation for new regulations.*

Wells said that DPR's approach will enhance
protection of ground water. *We will use new
methods developed in recent years by DPR
scientists to identify potentially vulnerable areas
before contamination occurs,* he said.
*Pesticide management practices can then be
tailored for the situations in which pesticides
could move into ground water. The primary
focus will be on protecting vulnerable areas,
and will include statewide educational efforts
and regulatory strategies to implement
management practices that prevent
contamination before it occurs.*
    
*This pro-active approach can also benefit
pesticide users who share our concerns about
protecting people and the environment,* said
Wells.

A key component of DPR's ground water
program is the Pesticide Contamination
Prevention Act of 1985. That legislation created
procedures for identifying and tracking ground
water contamination. Under the law, DPR
collected data on how agricultural pesticides
behave in soil, established a statewide data
base of wells sampled for pesticides, and
published annual reports on detections. More
than 20,000 wells have been sampled in the
past decade. DPR has used data from the
sampling to identify contaminated areas and
designate them as Pesticide Management
Zones (PMZs).

While specific chemicals detected within PMZs
are regulated under the current program, it
does not address potential pesticide movement
into ground water outside the PMZs. The 1985
law emphasized identification of pesticides with
characteristics that made them a likely threat to
ground water. However, in the past decade,
DPR scientists have found it equally important
to identify the areas vulnerable to ground water
contamination. DPR data suggests that soil and
climatic conditions often play a critical role in
ground water contamination.

Using this data, DPR scientists have
constructed a computer model that identifies
areas vulnerable to ground water contamination.
The model could also help agricultural pesticide
users improve their applications. For example,
studies in the San Joaquin Valley found a
particular herbicide was more likely to move
through coarse soils and into ground water
when the field was over-irrigated. Good
irrigation management prevented ground water
contamination, reduced pesticide use, and
maintained satisfactory weed control.

Defining vulnerable areas with computer
modeling is one discussion item for the
workshops. Other items include refining
restrictions for chemicals used in vulnerable
areas and reviewing restrictions to protect wells.

*Input from these public workshops will be used
to fine-tune our proposals and ensure that they
meet our goals and are workable in the field,*
said Wells. *We want to help farmers and
others develop practices that work from both an
environmental and economic standpoint.*

For more information on the workshops to be
held by DPR's Environmental Monitoring
Branch, call John Troiano at (916) 324-4115 or
Joe Marade at (916) 324-4119.

Media Contacts:                    
Veda Federighi, 916/445-3974            
Glenn Brank,
916/445-3970                

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