Pesticides and Fertilizers

Why are they bad for water quality?

Over applying pesticides and fertilizers and applying them before it rains not only damages our gardens, but contaminates storm water when irrigation water and rain water carries these chemicals to the storm drains. Pesticides, intended to kill bugs around our homes also damage the important ecosystems that live in creeks, rivers, lakes and the ocean. Additionally, pesticides can cause a health threat to humans who swim or play in waterbodies which receive storm water discharges.

Fertilizers that are used to help our gardens grow, add nutrients to waterbodies causing excessive plant and algae growth. Plants and algae are an important part of the aquatic ecosystem, but too much algae in our waterways is not good. When the aquatic plant life begins to die it takes the oxygen out of the water and can suffocate wildlife that is dependent on the water.

What can you do to prevent or reduce storm water pollution?

Apply pesticides and fertilizers AFTER it rains – not before it rains. If these chemicals are applied before it rains, the storm may be so large that it washes the chemicals down the storm drain system and into the nearest waterbody.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions listed on the product packaging when using pesticides and fertilizers. Do not over apply.

Try using natural alternatives to fertilizers and pesticides called Integrated Pest Management. The City of Oceanside has a handy flier called “Gardening Tips to Prevent Storm Water Pollution”  (328 KB) for gardeners interested in natural alternatives to traditional chemicals pesticides and fertilizers.

Do not  over-water your lawn. Excess water will simply run off into the street and wash away pesticides and fertilizers before they have had a chance to be effective.

Rather than pour unwanted chemicals into the street or down the drain (which is illegal), click here to learn how to properly dispose of them.

Label and store pesticides and fertilizers in a covered area, protected from rain water exposure.

What do the laws say about pesticides and fertilizer use?

Fertilizers and pesticides are still legal, but they must be applied according to directions. If everyone voluntarily limited their use or began using natural alternatives, Municipal, State and Federal governments would not have to create strict laws regulating pesticide or fertilizer use.

Report any water running in the street when it is not raining or someone dumping something in the storm drain or curb and gutter by calling the
Urban Runoff Hotline at 760-435-4500.