Farming Chemicals in our Water

By Carly Mullins

What are they?

Farming chemicals can be found everywhere, from your backyard to the miles of farmland in the country. Farming chemicals are usually used to rid crops of pests and weeds. Many people also use them in their gardens. Little do they know how that little bit of pesticide is going to affect our water sources.

How do they affect our health?

Farming chemicals can be transported from farmland or backyards to rivers and lakes in the form of runoff. They then pollute our drinking water and affect our resources. These chemicals can also hurt our aquatic animals by "affecting aquatic reproduction and egg production"(Swanson). This means we can say goodbye to our duckling friends in the spring. When the chemicals run into our water sources, we are unable to drink that water. The director of Des Moines water works says, "Our concern, obviously, is that once you shake a customers' faith in the safety of tap water, you turn them to other sources, like bottled water"(Swanson). Once we can't be certain of the quality of our tap water, we start giving our money to rich water bottle producers, rather than our public systems.

How do we prevent them from getting in our water?

There are many ways to prevent farming chemicals from getting into our water. Some ways are, using non-toxic pesticides, decreasing your use of pesticides altogether, practice organic farming techniques, that help the environment, help people understand the effects of water pollution, and applying chemicals sparingly.

What are the issues in Iowa?

Some issues reported by Abbie Swanson in Iowa are, "In Iowa's Raccoon and Des Moines river, record-high levels of nitrate runoff this year are making it extremely difficult to meet the demand for clean drinking water. The general manager of Des Moines Water Works, Bill Stowe, fears long term effects"(Swanson). This shows that Iowa's water sources are decreasing due to runoff. This is bad because if we lose these major sources of water to farming chemicals, we will have no water to drink!

How do we help?

You can help by reducing the amount of water you use to water your lawn, causing runoff that leads into streams, the amount of water you use to shower, so there is no need for extra cleaning of water. You can also become an advocate for water pollution by raising awareness in your community.


  • All images from ICLIPART
  • Vellidis, George, Matt Smith, and Richard Lowrance. "Impact and Control of Agricultural Runoff | Articles | Stormwater." Impact and Control of Agricultural Runoff | Articles | Stormwater. Forester Media, 30 Apr. 2003. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.
  • Swanson, Abbie. "What Is Farm Runoff Doing To The Water? Scientists Wade In." NPR. NPR, 5 July 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
  • EPA. "Benefits of Pesticide Use." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 27 June 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.