According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "A pesticide is any substance used to control or repel a pest or to prevent the damage that pests may cause." Many of us use pesticides on our lawns and gardens. Pesticides applied to lawns and gardens are often washed away by rainfall that drains into storm sewers and flows directly into the Lower Chippewa River. Pesticides found in urban stormwater runoff do not pass through the wastewater treatment plant, but go into the river untreated. Broad-spectrum pesticides are harmful to many different organisms. The herbicide glyphosate is very toxic to aquatic species. Even small amounts can kill aquatic animals and plants. Glyphosate is also dangerous to land-inhabiting plants, animals, and soil microorganisms. It can damage the ecosystem and reduce biodiversity in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. Studies have also shown that human exposure to glyphosate during pregnancy can result in the degradation of umbilical, placental, and embryonic cells.
The best way to prevent pesticide pollution is to avoid using pesticides altogether. Keep your lawn and garden healthy by handpicking weeds, using mulch, and watering and mowing properly. If pesticides are required, use natural products. Treat only for specific pests instead of using a broad-spectrum pesticide that kills everything. Build a rain garden to filter out harmful chemicals in stormwater runoff. Redirect roof downspouts to grassy areas to increase absorption into the soil. Get involved in the community and support legislation that regulates pesticide use. Encourage local lawn and garden stores to carry natural pesticides. Offer stores suggestions for alternatives to pesticides so they can inform customers. It is possible to have a lush and healthy lawn and garden without harmful pesticides!