A multi-level assessment methodology for determining the potential for groundwater contamination by pesticides
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A multi-level pesticide assessment methodology has been developed to permit regulatory personnel to undertake a variety of assessments on the potential for pesticide used in agricultural areas to contaminate the groundwater regime at an increasingly detailed geographical scale of investigation. A multi-level approach accounts for a variety of assessment objectives and detail required in the assessment, the restrictions on the availability and accuracy of data, the time available to undertake the assessment, and the expertise of the decision maker. The level 1: regional scale is designed to prioritize districts having a potentially high risk for groundwater contamination from the application of a specific pesticide for a particular crop. The level 2: local scale is used to identify critical areas for groundwater contamination, at a soil polygon scale, within a district. A level 3: soil profile scale allows the user to evaluate specific factors influencing pesticide leaching and persistence, and to determine the extent and timing of leaching, through the simulation of the migration of a pesticide within a soil profile. Because of the scale of investigation, limited amount of data required, and qualitative nature of the assessment results, the level 1 and level 2 assessment are designed primarily for quick and broad guidance related to management practices. A level 3 assessment is more complex, requires considerably more data and expertise on the part of the user, and hence is designed to verify the potential for contamination identified during the level 1 or 2 assessment. The system combines environmental modelling, geographical information systems, extensive databases, data management systems, expert systems, and pesticide assessment models, to form an environmental information system for assessing the potential for pesticides to contaminate groundwater.
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