Scientific Investigations Report 2013–5064
Groundwater samples were collected from 296 wells during 1995–2006 as part of a baseline study of pesticides in Wyoming groundwater. In 2009, a previous report summarized the results of the baseline sampling and the statistical evaluation of the occurrence of pesticides in relation to selected natural and anthropogenic (human-related) characteristics.
During 2008–10, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, resampled a subset (52) of the 296 wells sampled during 1995–2006 baseline study in order to compare detected compounds and respective concentrations between the two sampling periods and to evaluate the detections of new compounds. The 52 wells were distributed similarly to sites used in the 1995–2006 baseline study with respect to geographic area and land use within the geographic area of interest.
Because of the use of different types of reporting levels and variability in reporting-level values during both the 1995–2006 baseline study and the 2008–10 resampling study, analytical results received from the laboratory were recensored. Two levels of recensoring were used to compare pesticides—a compound-specific assessment level (CSAL) that differed by compound and a common assessment level (CAL) of 0.07 microgram per liter. The recensoring techniques and values used for both studies, with the exception of the pesticide 2,4–D methyl ester, were the same. Twenty-eight different pesticides were detected in samples from the 52 wells during the 2008–10 resampling study. Pesticide concentrations were compared with several U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water standards or health advisories for finished (treated) water established under the Safe Drinking Water Act. All detected pesticides were measured at concentrations smaller than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water standards or health advisories where applicable (many pesticides did not have standards or advisories).
One or more pesticides were detected at concentrations greater than the CAL in water from 16 of 52 wells sampled (about 31 percent) during the resampling study. Detected pesticides were classified into one of six types: herbicides, herbicide degradates, insecticides, insecticide degradates, fungicides, or fungicide degradates. At least 95 percent of detected pesticides were classified as herbicides or herbicide degradates.
The number of different pesticides detected in samples from the 52 wells was similar between the 1995–2006 baseline study (30 different pesticides) and 2008–2010 resampling study (28 different pesticides). Thirteen pesticides were detected during both studies. The change in the number of pesticides detected (without regard to which pesticide was detected) in groundwater samples from each of the 52 wells was evaluated and the number of pesticides detected in groundwater did not change for most of the wells (32). Of those that did have a difference between the two studies, 17 wells had more pesticide detections in groundwater during the 1995–2006 baseline study, whereas only 3 wells had more detections during the 2008-2010 resampling study.
The difference in pesticide concentrations in groundwater samples from each of the 52 wells was determined. Few changes in concentration between the 1995–2006 baseline study and the 2008–2010 resampling study were seen for most detected pesticides. Seven pesticides had a greater concentration detected in the groundwater from the same well during the baseline sampling compared to the resampling study. Concentrations of prometon, which was detected in 17 wells, were greater in the baseline study sample compared to the resampling study sample from the same well 100 percent of the time.
The change in the number of pesticides detected (without regard to which pesticide was detected) in groundwater samples from each of the 52 wells with respect to land use and geographic area was calculated. All wells with land use classified as agricultural had the same or a smaller number of pesticides detected in the resampling study compared to the baseline study. All wells in the Bighorn Basin geographic area also had the same or a smaller number of pesticides detected in the resampling study compared to the baseline study.
First posted April 8, 2013
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Eddy-Miller, C.A., Bartos, T.T., and Taylor, M.L., 2013, Pesticides in Wyoming Groundwater, 2008–10: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013–5064, 45 p.
Methods of Investigation
Pesticide Occurrence during 2008–10 Resampling Study
Differences in Pesticide Occurrence between 1995–2006 Baseline and 2008–10 Resampling Studies