News Release 375

High levels of atrazine detected in Drexel drinking water

Volume 38-375 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Judd Slivka
573-751-1010 / 573-340-9DNR (9367) (after hours)

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JUNE 23, 2010—High levels of the herbicide atrazine have been found in the city of Drexel’s public water supply, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today. 

The maximum contaminant level for atrazine is 3 parts per billion.  The amount of atrazine found in the most recent routine quarterly sample analyzed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources laboratory was 31.2 parts per billion.  The department is investigating the cause for this recent spike in atrazine levels and will be retesting the water and working closely with the community.

While this level is above the maximum contaminant level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that level is set based on long-term exposure.  The Department of Health and Senior Services does not expect to see any significant acute health effects as a result of this monitoring spike. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services recommends neither using the water for drinking nor using it to cook, wash dishes or to make ice.

Public water supply systems are required to test for chemicals four times per year.  Atrazine and other chemical levels are tracked using a running annual average.   This single spike in atrazine levels immediately puts the water system in non-compliance.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has been working with the Drexel Public Water Supply on compliance issues for several years.  The Drexel water system is currently constructing a connection to the Tri-County Water Authority in Independence.  The water system has signed an agreement to begin purchasing water from Tri-County by the end of the year.

Atrazine is a common herbicide used to control broadleaf and grassy weeds.  Atrazine is mainly applied to corn crops, but is also used on sorghum, sugarcane and Christmas tree farms.

For more information, call the Department of Natural Resources’ Public Drinking Water Branch at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-5331.