N.D. surface water near pesticide-free

Created: 4/21/10 (Wed) | Topic: Issues

BISMARCK – A five-month, statewide survey of 15 North Dakota rivers found only minimal traces of four widely-used pesticides.

“The 2009 testing program – the most extensive yet in North Dakota – found just the trace amounts of only these pesticides,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “This is reassuring to people who get their drinking water from these rivers, and it is a credit to our agricultural producers and the care they use in applying these chemicals.”

The survey for 180 pesticides was conducted from April through October at 29 sites by personnel from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) and the North Dakota State Health Department. Jessica Johnson, an NDDA environmental scientist, coordinated the survey.

The sites were located along the Cannonball, Des Lacs, Forest, Goose, Heart, James, Knife, Little Missouri, Maple, Park, Red, Sheyenne, Souris, Turtle and Wild Rice Rivers. Each site was sampled at least five times.

Laboratory analysis detected trace amounts of atrazine from the Wild Rice River at Abercrombie and the Red River at Grand Forks and Brushville, Minn.; bentazon in the Turtle River near Manvel, the Forest River near Minto and the Red River at Pembina; dimethenamid in the Goose River near Hillsboro, and MPCA in the Wild Rice River at Abercrombie and the Red River at Brushville.

“The highest detected concentration was one and a half parts per billion of MPCA, and that is less than one percent of the level that the Environmental Protection Agency says is acceptable,” Goehring said. “More than 93 percent of the 174 samples analyzed had no detectable amounts of any pesticide.”

Goehring said North Dakota should continue monitoring surface water for pesticides.

“We need to know about pesticide levels in surface water for a variety of reasons, especially the possible risk to human health and the environment,” he said.

Funding for the survey was provided by the 2009 Legislature and by a grant from the EPA.

The study can be found on the NDDA website at

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