Spring is nearly here and if you live in the Midwest, you're ready for warmer weather and spring planting season. However, with the beginning of the new growing season always comes the fears and accusations that "big" agriculture is once again going to pollute the nation's rivers and streams with harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

Not so fast, American consumer. A five-month Associated Press investigation has just revealed that trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in the water are to blame for the reproductive problems in many types of fish.

Pharmaceuticals are not completely absorbed by the body. Excess traces of the pharmaceuticals are excreted through the body's elimination system into the water supply. And it's a problem that is not localized to the United States. More than 100 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in surface waters throughout the world, according to the report. What people forget, too, is that humans aren't the only creatures that consume water. There is evidence that some animals that live in or drink from streams and lakes are affected as well.

The next logical conclusion is that if the water supply is affecting fish and wildlife, how is it affecting average Americans, especially when most city's municipal water supplies do not have filters or ways to clean pharmaceutical residues from the public's drinking water?

Some city's water companies interviewed in the AP investigation went so far as to say they couldn't release any data because of the Patriot Act, citing that providing that information would be a threat to national security.

Although the mainstream perception among citizens and the EPA is that only synthetic fertilizer and pesticides contaminate waters, they have neglected to see the entire picture. It's much easier to blame someone else or a large enterprise than to look at their own behaviors and patterns. This issue reveals how complex of an issue water quality is.

It has long been suggested that the next world war will be fought over water, not oil or land. Agriculture is already seeing legal batttles in the western part of the United States. But the next step in the battle over water is the quality and purity of that water. Big agriculture is not the single culprit in water pollution, although it is part of the larger puzzle.

Unfortunately, the public has remained unconcerned or unwilling to speak up about other pollution, choosing instead to blame agriculture. A possible larger implication is the impact of pharmaceutical-contaminated water being used on crops. I doubt if there are any studies of just such a scenario, but it's not a stretch of the imagination to think there are possible implications.

So, perhaps when you meet someone in your day to day life that complains about agriculture's pollution of the water supplies, you can remind them of this study and how it's a global concern and that they are just a part of it if they take any pharmaceuticals. There are other concerns other than agriculture.

To read the full story about pharmaceuticals in the water, follow this link.