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.