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U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the Technical Meeting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 20-24, 1993, Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4015

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Persistence of Herbicides in Selected Reservoirs in the Midwestern United States: Some Preliminary Results

by

Donald A. Goolsby (U.S. Geological Survey, Lakewood, Colorado), William A. Battaglin (U.S. Geological Survey, Lakewood, Colorado), James D. Fallon (U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas), Diana S. Aga (U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas), Dana W. Kolpin (U.S. Geological Survey, Iowa City, Iowa), and E. Michael Thurman (U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas)

Abstract

Preliminary results from a study of herbicides in 76 midwestern reservoirs show that some herbicides and metabolites of atrazine and alachlor are detected more frequently throughout the year in reservoirs than in streams. Except for a short period after application to cropland, herbicide concentrations also are generally higher in reservoirs than in streams. Herbicides or their metabolites were detected in 82 to 92 percent of the reservoirs sampled during four periods from late April through early November 1992. Atrazine was detected most frequently and in highest concentrations, followed by an alachlor metabolite (alachlor ethanesulfonic acid), and two atrazine metabolites (desethylatrazine and deisopropylatrazine). The longer persistence of some herbicides and metabolites in reservoirs than streams is attributed to longer half lives for these compounds in the water column than in the soil where concentrations of organic matter and microorganisms are much higher and contribute to rapid biodegradation of herbicides. A second contributing factor is long-term storage of water in reservoirs that originates as spring and summer storm runoff from cropland and which contains high concentrations of herbicides.

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