Bridging the GAPs: Approaches to Treating Water On Farms

the chemical or device. The product label and instructions must include information on safe handling and the potential risk to human health.


Environmental considerations Growers must consider EPA and/or local environmental considerations, particularly for use of a chemical treatment. Key concerns are the consistent use of a chemical and its effect on soil and water conditions that may impact the surrounding ecological habitat.

Which factor do you consider the most burdensome for growers when implementing a water treatment system? Why? Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, Financial investment, Management of system, Application method, Source of water, Infrastructure, Crop sensitivity, Worker safety, or Environmental considerations.

Types of Irrigation Water Treatment and EPA Regulation

Microbial treatment of irrigation water can be classified into two categories: chemical and physical treatments. Chemical treatment involves the use of antimicrobial pesticides which are defined by the EPA as a substance or a mix of substances formulated to destroy, repel, prevent, or mitigate a pest. In case of treating agricultural water, the target pests are microorganisms. Physical treatments, known as pesticide devices, work by physical means, such as electricity, light, or mechanics. They do not contain any substances or mix of substances to destroy, prevent, or reduce a pest. For most antimicrobial pesticides, and many devices, the EPA oversees or regulates the approval of these treatments. The Federal Fungicide, Insecticide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) governs the registration, distribution, sale, and use of pesticides in the United States. The EPA reviews the product label as part of the registration process for pesticides. This label on a product and the instructions are a key part of pesticide regulation. The label provides critical instructions on how to safely handle and use the product to avoid adverse health effects and harm to the environment. This label must include the EPA registration number and specific instructions for treating irrigation water, such as concentration and contact time. Some states may also have registration and environmental requirements. For example, the commercial product Sanidate, which is a formulation of hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid, has restrictions on use in California, while most other states have less strict requirements. While the EPA label provides information on the target organism for intended use, there is no EPA-approved chemical treatment for irrigation water to reduce microbiological indicators, such as E. coli or enteric pathogens. The target organism for EPA approval is most likely a plant pathogen. Certain registered antimicrobial products are labeled for use in the treatment of irrigation water systems or irrigation ponds to control plant bacteria or algae growth. Independent studies may be performed by academia or industry to


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