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Publication Abstract

An Initial Evaluation of the Impact of Pesticides on Groundwater in Illinois: Report to the Illinois Legislature McKenna, Dennis P., Thomas J. Bicki, William S. Dey, Donald A. Keefer, Edward Mehnert, Samuel V. Panno, Chittaranjan Ray, Steven D. Wilson, and Susan C. Schock, 1990  Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, IL,  ISWS COOP-12    Full Text Available

At present, data are insufficient to accurately determine what impact pesticides have had on groundwater quality in Illinois. Groundwater sampling in Illinois and other Midwestern sates indicates, however, that shallow aquifers-current or potential sources of drinking water-are vulnerable to contamination.

In approximately 40 percent of rural Illinois, aquifers lie within 50 feet of ground surface. These shallow aquifers occur throughout Illinois but are most common in the northern and southern parts of the state and along the major river valleys. In about 60 percent of rural Illinois, the aquifers are more than 50 feet deep and apparently protected from pesticide contamination by the attenuation capacity of soils and thick sequences of fine-grained materials. Pesticide use, largely for corn and soybean production, is heaviest in areas of the state where aquifers are generally least vulnerable to contamination.

The agricultural practices most likely to impact groundwater quality are pesticide selection and application rate, nitrogen fertilizer application rate, and crop rotation. Use of less persistent and less mobile compounds can reduce the potential for groundwater contamination. Pesticide and nitrogen fertilizer application rates directly influence the amount available for leaching. Crop rotations usually reduce the need for application of nitrogen fertilizer and insecticides and may reduce the need for herbicides.

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