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Pesticides and Water Quality

Proper Use of Pesticides

If you must use pesticides, follow these tips to reduce pesticide effects on your local waterways:

  • Identify your pest problem and choose the least toxic pesticide that targets your pest and achieves the results you want. For information about pest identification and management, see how to manage pests in homes, gardens, landscapes, and turf.
  • Determine how much pesticide you need and buy only the amount that you can use up.
  • Use spot treatments whenever possible.
  • Always wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, eye protection, and other equipment required on the pesticide container label.
  • Dispose of unused chemicals properly and according to label instructions.


  • Avoid overwatering after applying pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Never let pesticide runoff flow into storm drains.
  • Do not apply pesticides outdoors when rain is forecast or when it is windy out.
  • Avoid applying pesticides on paved areas or near waterways.


  • Avoid applying pesticides in or near floor drains or sinks.
  • Do not apply pesticides on areas that will be washed or mopped with water, or where food is prepared or stored.

Illustration by Chris O'Connor

Important! Avoid applying pesticides to paved areas and do not apply pesticides while watering or when rain is forecast.

More UC IPM resources (Pest Notes)

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

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