STORMWATER STRAIGHT TALK: Pesticides – Good for weeds, insects…bad for stormwater runoff

  • Published
  • 78th Civil Engineer Group

Pesticides can be useful in controlling weeds and insects and creating well-maintained lawns and landscaped areas. However, they can also become a stormwater concern if stored or used improperly. They pose a potential stormwater pollution risk and threat to drinking water, aquatic plants and animals, and waterbodies used for swimming, fishing, and recreational activities.

Pesticides utilized on lawns and gardens can be carried away to non-target areas with the next rainfall. The toxicity of pesticides can pose a threat to aquatic life if pesticides make their way into waterbodies. Pesticides can also contaminate drinking water if they seep into ground water or other sources of drinking water. It is important to develop best practices to minimize pesticide pollution in stormwater runoff and water bodies.

The labels on pesticide containers have instructions on proper application, in addition to risks specifically associated with that pesticide. Make sure to read the labels before using the pesticides and follow the instructions to reduce the risk of exposure to humans and wildlife.

Below are some tips for keeping pesticides out of stormwater runoff and water bodies and storing them safely:
- Keep pesticides out of reach of children and pets so that the pesticides are not accidently consumed
- Store pesticides away from water sources
- Store pesticides in places with low risks of flooding
- Try to purchase pesticides that are least toxic to the environment, like insecticidal soap
- Look for pesticides with low water solubility and high adsorption – ability to bind to soil and plant surfaces – so that they are less likely to contaminate water bodies
- Only purchase the amount of pesticides you will use during each season
- Do not apply pesticides if it is windy or within 24 hours of expected rain
- Do not apply pesticides near open waterbodies and near storm drains
- Avoid applying pesticides to sidewalks, driveways, or other hard surfaces so that rain does not carry them into storm drains
- Try to apply pesticides only where pests are found, usually in cracks and crevices
- Plant vegetation between areas of pesticide application and any water body, especially when the application area is uphill of the water body
- Use containerized baits for exterior treatment of ants and cockroaches instead of a perimeter spray to prevent runoff
- Hire a professional company that follows best practices

By properly using and storing pesticides, you can help keep Robins Air Force Base clean and safe. For more information, call 478-222-2526.

Editor’s Note: Stormwater Straight Talk is a quarterly column intended to educate and inform base personnel and families about stormwater management.