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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 1, p. 309-318
    Received: Jan 26, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): karin.mueller@agresearch.co.nz
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Point- and Nonpoint-Source Pesticide Contamination in the Zwester Ohm Catchment, Germany

  1. Karin Müller *a,
  2. Martin Bacha,
  3. Holger Hartmannb,
  4. Michael Spitellerb and
  5. Hans-Georg Fredea
  1. a Dep. of Agric. Ecology and Nat. Resources Management, Univ. of Giessen, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32, 35392 Giessen, Germany
    b Dep. of Ecological Chem. and Ecotoxicology, Univ. of Kassel, Steinstraße 19, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany


Reducing pesticide loads in surface waters implies identifying the pathways responsible for the pollution. The current study documents the pesticide contamination of the river Zwester Ohm, a 4917-ha catchment in Germany with 41% of the land used for crop production. Discharges and concentrations of 19 pesticides were measured continuously at three locations for 15 mo. The load detected at the outlet of the catchment amounted to 9048 g a.i. The losses represent 0.22% of the pesticides applied by the farmers. The contamination showed a seasonal pattern following the pesticide application times. The wastewater treatment plant system (WWTPS) in the catchment (two wastewater treatment plants [WWTP], 14 combined sewer overflows (CSO), four CSO tanks) emits during dry weather periods purified sewage and during storm events sewage mixed with stormwater runoff into the river. The contribution by the WWTPS to the pesticide load was defined as point-source pollution (PSP). The load was dominated by PSP with at least 77% of the total pollution. No significant interdependencies between intrinsic properties of the pesticides, hydrometeorological factors, and the loads occurring in the stream could be found. Therefore, it is not possible to predict PSP for other catchments based on the results from this study. Whereas 65% of the total load entered the river via the WWTP, a portion of 12% was attributed to the CSO. The study points out that the influence of CSO on PSP should be taken into account in future catchment studies in areas with comparable agricultural structure.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:309–318.