Chemicals can affect water safety

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By David Harrison

May is Kentucky Water Awareness Month. We can observe it by helping keep our groundwater safe from contaminants.  
Agricultural chemicals are an important part of farming, but, if misapplied, can lead to groundwater contamination. As farmers plant and grow crops this year, they should take steps to reduce the chance of farm chemicals in groundwater:
Read the manufacturer’s label for each chemical and follow label directions for safe use and disposal.
Mix and store chemicals at least 100 feet from wells, sinkholes or surface water sources such as ditches, ponds or streams. Some chemicals have maximum use rates, as well as very specific setbacks for use around well, sinkholes, streams, rivers and lakes.   
If a pesticide is spilled on a hard surface, don’t wash down the area because it might carry the material to other water sources. Instead, surround the contaminated area with dirt or sprinkle on an absorbent material such as sawdust. Put the absorbent material in a strong plastic bag and dispose of it safely.
Keep the filling hose above the tank water level at all times when filling the sprayer to prevent back-siphoning. Put a clamp on top of the tank to hold a hose if necessary. Be sure someone is attending the sprayer throughout the time it’s being filled.
To prevent back-siphoning, install back-flow prevention or anti-siphon devices on the fill pipe between the water source and sprayer.  
Triple-rinse or pressure-rinse containers prior to disposal and empty rinse water into the spray tank.  These containers can be returned at the LaRue County Pesticide Container Recycling date on Aug. 9 at Southern States.
Store chemicals in a dry, well-ventilated, cool location, isolated if possible. Keep chemicals in the original, labeled container that’s sealed tightly.
Farmers should be certified by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture as Private Pesticide Applicators. Extension provides the training for the certification.