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Pesticide Frequently Asked Questions

Why are pesticides in wastewater a problem?

Traces of certain synthetic pesticides periodically have been getting into Fort Worth’s sewer system, going through the treatment plant and into the Trinity River. Tests mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show the pesticides are at levels high enough to kill certain microscopic organisms and potentially harm the river’s water quality. Test failures have been linked to diazinon or its breakdown products, but high levels of malathion have been detected occasionally.

What if we don’t get pesticides out of the wastewater system?

Customers would face significant cost increases to pay for stiff EPA fines (up to $25,000 per day) or expensive treatment plant additions if diazinon is not eliminated from the city’s wastewater—and the river’s water quality may be damaged.

The Village Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is an award-winning facility, but it was never designed to remove pesticides. It would cost at least $60 million dollars to add these treatment facilities, plus $5 million to $6 million a year to maintain them.

How do the pesticides get into the sewers?

  • Rain washes freshly applied pesticides from lawns into sewer manholes or open drain cleanouts.
  • Pesticides fall onto pavement during application where they can be washed into the sewer system.
  • Garments or rags with pesticides on them are washed in the washing machine.
  • People pour leftover pesticides down the bathtub, commode, sink, sewer line cleanout or floor drain.
  • People use the tub or sink to dip their pet for fleas or ticks and then release the dip water down the drain.

So what can I do?

The only guaranteed way to keep synthetic pesticides out of the sewer system is for residents to stop using diazinon and decrease the use of other pesticides.

  • Never pour pesticides, organic or synthetic, or pesticide residues down a sink, commode, bathtub, washing machine, floor drain or storm drain.
  • Look for information about alternative pest control methods, such as IPM (integrated pest management) at the public library or local bookstore.

Fort Worth needs your help to keep diazinon and other pesticides out of the sewer system. Thanks for doing your part!

How can I control pests without pesticides?

For years commercial farmers have used a concept called Integrated Pest Management to minimize the pesticides they use. These simple and safe concepts also can work in your landscape:

  • Choose plants that are resistant to pests.
  • Use proper watering and cultivating practices to keep plants and grasses healthy and reduce damage from pests.
  • Don’t use pesticides on a routine, preventive schedule. Pesticides aren’t needed unless you actually see pests in your landscape. If you do see pests, they may not be present in numbers large enough to do damage. For instance, studies show that the typical yard can handle four to six grub worms per square foot. Just because you see bugs doesn’t mean you need to treat. In fact, this poses unnecessary risks to you and the environment.
  • Don’t use pesticides when rain is expected.
  • Use treatments that aren’t harmful to the environment.

##Treatment for Common Pests

For more info, visit Insects in the City (TCES)

Pest Prevention Treatment
Fleas
  • Vacuum daily to remove fleas and eggs from carpeting and upholstery.
  • Throw vacuum cleaner bag away or seal in plastic bag and place in sun to kill fleas and eggs before bag is reused.
  • Examine pets regularly for the first sign of fleas.
  • Commercial flea traps or a light bulb over a pan of soapy water can help catch fleas.
  • Steam clean carpet and upholstery regularly.
  • Use a product containing an insect growth regulator to prevent emergence of adult fleas. Look for products containing methoprene (Precor®, vIGRen®) or pyriproxifen.
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    Pest Prevention Treatment
    Ticks
  • Remove piles of wood /trash that may attract mice.
  • Ticks love warm, moist areas. Keep grass and cut vegetation below ankle height.
  • Wear light-colored shoes, socks, trousers and long-sleeved shirts in tick-infested areas.
  • Repellents containing "DEET®" may be applied to clothing or shoes.To be safest, don't apply to skin.
  • For heavy infestations, spot treat with pyrethrum spray. Treat perimeters of lawns and pet pathways.
  • Use a product containing insect growth regulators such as pyriproxyfen in kennels and bedding.
  • When removing ticks, be careful and wear gloves to avoid handling ticks with your bare hands. Many ticks carry diseases that can be passed on to people.
  • **If you have a pet:** - Keep pets out of bedroom and hard-to-clean areas. - Have a specific place for the pet to sleep, and wash bedding regularly. Treat bedding with insecticidal soap or diatomaceous earth. - Use a flea comb to pull off loose ticks daily. Dip comb into soapy water to kill ticks. - To remove a tick from skin, apply petroleum jelly to loosen the tick’s grip, and lift firmly with tweezers. Dip tick into soapy water. Do not crush the tick. - Bathe pet. Any soap will do, but soaps containing limonene or linalool are best. - Pyrethrum flea and tick powders are safest for pets. Read labels carefully; some products are toxic to cats.
    Pest Prevention Treatment
    Cockroaches
  • Store food properly; keep kitchen clean. Put away pet bowls at night or place in a pan of soapy water to trap roaches.
  • Eliminate moisture sources. Repair leaky plumbing.
  • Bag trash and use cans with tight fitting lids. Don’t allow trash and paper clutter to collect in home.
  • Screen vents and windows. Caulk or paint cracks and weather-strip doors.
  • Vacuum thoroughly and regularly to remove roach egg cases.
  • Dispose of vacuum cleaner bag in sealed plastic bag.
  • Spread boric acid under appliances, and dust into cracks and crevices with a bulb duster. Wear a dust mask and goggles during application.
  • Ask your exterminator about the use of silica gels and insect growth regulator products that are low in toxicity to people and pets.
  • Place commercial roach bait stations, like Combat® and Max®, along walls and behind appliances.
  • A combination of tactics will be the most effective way to control roaches.
  • Pest Prevention Treatment
    Mosquitoes
  • Store food properly; keep kitchen clean. Put away pet bowls at night or place in a pan of soapy water to trap roaches.
  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Check saucers under potted plants, clogged roof gutters, dripping outdoor faucets, tree holes, tire ruts, plastic wading pools, old tires and pet water bowls.
  • Install screens on doors and windows.
  • Birds eat mosquitoes. Encourage birds in your yard by putting up a bird feeder (away from your house so you don’t attract ticks). If you have a birdbath, change the water frequently.
  • Treat standing water that can’t be drained with B.t.i.
  • Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito-eating fish such as guppies or minnows.
  • Insecticide foggers for mosquito control produce only short-term relief. A better solution is to look for and remove breeding sites.
  • **Repellents** - Apply commercial repellents containing "DEET®" to clothing and shoes. Avoid applying directly to skin. - Citronella oil or candles outdoors may provide some relief.
    Pest Prevention Treatment
    Flies
  • Look for and remove sources of fly breeding outdoors. Garbage or manure that accumulates for more than seven days can produce large numbers of flies.
  • Fruit flies breed indoors in overripe fruit or vegetables or spilled syrups. Look for and remove these breeding sites.
  • Flies also breed in sink, floor or shower drains with fungal build-up. Clean drains with a stiff brush.
  • Sticky tapes hung 3 - 6 feet off the ground will help keep indoor fly problems down.
  • **Aphids** - Wash aphids off plants with a forceful stream of water, or spray with an insecticidal soap or oil. - Mix one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with a cup of household oil. Mix five to 10 tablespoons of this mixture with a gallon of water to make a spray that can kill a variety of soft-bodied insects. Avoid using on sensitive plants or on hot days. **Grub Worms** - The best time to treat is July or early August. - Recommended insecticides are imidacloprid (Bayer Advanced Lawn Season Long Grub Control or Merit. Halofenozide is also effective (Ortho Grub-B-Gone, Mach 2). Halofenozide must be applied before grubs reach the final life stage. After August 1, Halofenozide is ineffective in treatment of grubs.