Assessment of Potential Aquatic Herbicide Impacts to California Aquatic Ecosystems

  • Geoffrey S. Siemering
  • Jennifer D. Hayworth
  • Ben K. Greenfield


A series of legal decisions culminated in 2002 with the California State Water Resources Control Board funding the San Francisco Estuary Institute to develop and implement a 3-year monitoring program to determine the potential environmental impacts of aquatic herbicide applications. The monitoring program was intended to investigate the behavior of all aquatic pesticides in use in California, to determine potential impacts in a wide range of water-body types receiving applications, and to help regulators determine where to direct future resources. A tiered monitoring approach was developed to achieve a balance between program goals and what was practically achievable within the project time and budget constraints. Water, sediment, and biota were collected under “worst-case” scenarios in close association with herbicide applications. Applications of acrolein, copper sulfate, chelated copper, diquat dibromide, glyphosate, fluridone, triclopyr, and 2,4-D were monitored. A range of chemical analyses, toxicity tests, and bioassessments were conducted. At each site, risk quotients were calculated to determine potential impacts. For sediment-partitioning herbicides, sediment quality triad analysis was performed. Worst-case scenario monitoring and special studies showed limited short-term and no long-term toxicity directly attributable to aquatic herbicide applications. Risk quotient calculations called for additional risk characterizations; these included limited assessments for glyphosate and fluridone and more extensive risk assessments for diquat dibromide, chelated copper products, and copper sulfate. Use of surfactants in conjunction with aquatic herbicides was positively associated with greater ecosystem impacts. Results therefore warrant full risk characterization for all adjuvant compounds.


Glyphosate Acrolein Diquat Risk Quotient Fluridone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank the members of the APMP Steering Committee, SWRCB staff, and APMP External Review Committee for guidance on project development. The External Review Committee consisted of John Rodgers, Jr. (Clemson), Jan Gan (UC-Riverside), Michael Anderson (UC-Riverside), R. David Jones (US EPA), and Lenwood Hall (U-Maryland). We thank Nicole David, Sarah Pierce, Seth Shonkoff, Jennifer Hunt, and Chuck Striplen for field collection, Mike Connor and Bruce Thompson for guidance, Dave Crane, Abdou Mekebri, and the CDFG-Water Pollution Control Lab staff for chemical analysis, Dan Pickard, R. D. Kathman, Wayne Fields, and EcoAnalysts for invertebrate taxonomy identification, and Pacific EcoRisk, CDFG-Aquatic Toxicology Lab, UC Davis Aquatic Toxicology Lab, and UCD Granite Canyon Lab for toxicity testing. The State Water Resources Control Board of California funded this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey S. Siemering
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jennifer D. Hayworth
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ben K. Greenfield
    • 1
  1. 1.San Francisco Estuary InstituteOaklandUSA
  2. 2.MadisonUSA
  3. 3.SeattleUSA

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