To help keep pesticides out of water sources, the Western Integrated Pest Management Center recently created practical, hands-on training modules for agricultural applicators, professional urban landscapers and home gardeners.

"When the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a 10-year study of pesticides in surface and groundwater, it collected water, sediment and fish samples from hundreds of surface water sites and found pesticide residue in every one of them," said Western IPM Center Director Jim Farrar.

"Most of the concentrations were low and not dangerous to human health, but the findings showed that pesticides often find their way into rivers and streams and they don't belong there," said Farrar.

To combat the problem, the Center created the training modules, which are in the form of PowerPoint slide presentations. They can all be downloaded for free on the Western IPM Center website at www.wripmc.org.

The modules each have a different focus and different intended audience, but all deliver similar information.

"Each looks at how pesticides get into water, at soil and pesticide properties that can contribute to pesticides getting into water, and at how to use IPM practices to reduce pesticide contamination," said Carrie Foss, Washington State University's urban IPM director and one of the presentations' authors. "We wanted it to be positive and practical."

The presentations were peer reviewed before publication, and are designed to be a starting point for trainers - either industry, academic or Extension specialists.

"We expect people to take these modules and adapt them for their local audiences and needs," Foss said. "We want trainers to add in information they feel is pertinent."

For instance, the presentations do not contain specific precautions about pyrethroids or organophosphates, and a few reviewers thought they should.

"That type of specific pesticide information is important and it's something we expect a trainer to include as it relates to their area and audience," Foss explained.

Foss and others have used the training material for local audiences with good results.

The urban modules were shown to a group of local government representatives in Southern California, and others have used various modules with groups as large as 220 people.

The key now is getting the training material out to a larger audience so awareness reaches from large commercial applicators all the way to the home gardener who occasionally buys a gallon of herbicide at the local nursery.

"We need all audiences thinking about what they can do to keep pesticides out of the water," said University of Nevada's Susan Donaldson, a co-author and water quality specialist and her state's pesticide safety education coordinator.

"Every little bit helps, and we want people to start doing what they can do," said Donaldson.

One thing the Western IPM Center has done is make the slide presentations available to anyone who wants to use them. Visit www.wripmc.org and look under Useful Resources for the "Water Quality Protection Training Modules for Agriculture, Homeowners & Landscape Professionals" link.

That will take you to a registration page (so the Center can track downloads) and once you've entered your contact information it'll take you to the slides. From there, you can download any of the modules to your computer, then add, modify and customize the presentations to make them useful to your local audience.

The Western Integrated Pest Management Center promotes IPM practices to solve pest problems in agriculture, urban areas and natural lands throughout the West.

We encourage a science-based approach to pest management using pest biology, environmental information and all available technology to reduce pest damage to acceptable levels by the most economical means, while reducing the risk to people, property and the environment.

The Western Integrated Pest Management Center is one of four regional centers funded by the USDA to promote IPM practices, and serves 14 Western states and Pacific island territories.