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Herbicides in Irrigation Water

by Guest Blogger |
Herbicides in Irrigation Water_0

Protecting our CCOF-certified organic farm from external herbicide contamination has been an ongoing challenge. For over forty years, the Nevada Irrigation District (NID), our local water purveyor, has used herbicides to manage the unlined ditches that bring our irrigation water.

We believe the time has come to stop the application of elemental copper- and glyphosate-based herbicides to raw water canals statewide. To this end, we ask to draw on the experience of California’s certified organic farmers to learn more about other irrigation districts throughout the state. Does your water purveyor use herbicides to maintain their ditches?

Help us define the scope of this issue by taking this five-minute survey about your irrigation and/or livestock drinking water.

Our experience: NID sprays Roundup along the banks and berms of raw water irrigation canals without any warning. During monthly algae treatments, copper-based herbicides are dripped directly into irrigation water. To avoid herbicide contamination, we’ve shut off our water during treatments for over three decades.

Why now? New science has emerged. Over the past decade, the California EPA and others have researched the health impacts of copper in livestock drinking water. Findings indicate that even relatively low levels of copper can cause weight loss and illness in livestock, with sheep being particularly sensitive to ingesting copper. Additionally, in 2017, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment placed glyphosate on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Due to these advancements in California’s political and scientific environment, demonstrating unacceptable and expensive impacts from these practices, we believe an herbicide-free future is finally within reach.

To get involved and learn more, please visit our website at or contact us directly at


Mike Pasner’s Indian Springs Organic Farm has been certified organic by CCOF for over 30 years. Located on 33 acres just south of Pilot Peak, he grows a diverse selection of vegetables, specialty cut flowers, edible flowers, herbs, and small fruits. The Pasner family, including daughter Yara, is leading a statewide effort to create cleaner, safer ditches.