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Colorado Water Science Center

PESTICIDES IN STREAMS DRAINING AGRICULTURAL AND URBAN AREAS IN COLORADO

National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program
South Platte River Basin Study

by Robert A. Kimbrough and David W. Litke1

ABSTRACT

A study was conducted from April 1993 through April 1994 to describe and compare the occurrence and distribution of pesticides in streams in a small agricultural and a small urban area in Colorado. Twenty-five water samples collected at least monthly at the mouths of two tributary streams of the South Platte River were analyzed for 47 pesticides. The results indicate that both agricultural and urban areas are probable sources for pesticides in streams. In the agricultural area 30 pesticides were detected and in the urban area 22 pesticides were detected in one or more samples. Most often the more frequently detected pesticides in both areas also were some of the more commonly used pesticides. In both areas, pesticide concentrations were higher during the summer (application period) with maximum concentrations generally occurring in storm runoff. The year-round detection of some pesticides in both areas at consistently low concentrations, regardless of season or streamflow volume, could indicate that these compounds persist in the shallow alluvial aquifer year-round.

1 U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 415, Denver Federal Center, Lakewood, CO 80225

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