One of 62 sites where NID drips aquatic herbicides.

PENN VALLEY, Calif. June 26, 2017 – NID is registered with Nevada County agricultural department for use of 23 chemicals. That is 216.18 pounds and 4,665.01 gallons of materials in 2016. Since there are 62 delivery points, I am worried that the concentration at these delivery points is toxic to livestock, fish and wild animals.

There’s no way a mountain lion should be drinking aquatic algaecides once a month. No one wants to eat beef that drank aquatic algaecides once a month.

Cutrine and Nautique are the aquatic herbicides applied above my farm. Many of these algaecides are high in elemental copper. This mix can be hazardous to humans, domestic and wild animals and fish. I used to see fish and newts in our ditch, yet I haven’t for many years.

Roundup Custom is sprayed on the banks, berms, and water. This substance is labeled a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization and now by the EPA.

Nine of NID’s domestic water treatment plants are supplied by these conveyances.

None of these toxins makes it into my organic farm’s irrigation system! I’ve farmed in Penn Valley for 31 years. This treatment to kill algae occurs once a month for the six month irrigation season, April 15th – October 15th. For the first 28 years Nevada Irrigation District (NID) ditch tenders turned off my ditch box without fail on poison day. The last 3 years the liability to shut it off has been shifted wholly onto me.

The terrestrial herbicide used to kill weeds is sprayed on the banks, berms, and water. This treatment is done before and after irrigation season.

Nevada Irrigation District maintains 450 miles of raw water conveyance systems. 350 miles of this system is treated with aquatic and terrestrial herbicides.

I’m still in the process of assembling maps obtained by the public records act. It appears that approximately 50 miles of this 450 mile conveyance system are what NID calls “Randoms”. A Random is a natural creek.

Question: Is it legal to dump liquid herbicide into a natural creek?
Question: Are there enough weed blockages in a free flowing stream to mandate herbicides?

NID’s Mission Statement:

“The District will provide a dependable, quality water supply; continue to be good stewards of the watersheds, while conserving the available resources in our care.”

At a recent Maintenance and Resources meeting, I asked, “Wouldn’t a reduction in herbicide use be part of achieving this mission?” The answer was yes. In the 31 years I have farmed here I have not seen a reduction.

After attending these meetings for years I have come up with a workable fix. Resume cleaning the ditches with small excavators as needed. This was done annually for many years and only stopped 3 years ago. If the banks and berms need vegetation removal, goats are a good way to do it. I have presented this theory to NID management and employees for many years. The only response I have received is, “It isn’t financially viable.” I believe it is! When you eliminate, application equipment, human applicators, training, licensing, registrations, legal testing requirements, herbicides and liability, it becomes a viable option. The liability aspect of this plan has not been analyzed. This represents a huge tab never itemized by NID. The use of these highly toxic substances in water and on land has to have a large liability.

To wean NID off their herbicide use may take years. Like live streaming, it will only happen when a sufficient number of concerned rate and taxpayers make themselves heard.

Please lend support and stay in touch with this effort at

The BOD meeting is Wednesday, June 28th, at 9:00 AM at NID’s main office. Live streaming video will finally be allowed on the agenda after a 4 month, very well publicized battle. Thank you Nevada Irrigation District, for hearing your constituency! Later, in this same BOD meeting, NID will adopt their new Vegetation Management Plan. Now is a good time to tell them your concerns.

People are 96% water. Shouldn’t we find alternatives to putting poison in water that is used by people, animals, and crops?

I am a local organic farmer, having lived here for 31 years. I’m not a chemist, a journalist, or a cartographer. When something is wrong, it’s wrong to not fix it!

Mike Pasner
Indian Springs Organic Farm

7 replies on “Op-Ed | Mike Pasner: Poison in the Water?”

  1. This is a real eye opener for me. I had no idea that NID uses these kinds of poisons around and in people’s drinking water. It sounds like NID needs to find some new ways to keep their ditches clear. What with lack of transparency, poisoning water, and wasting ratepayers money on an unneeded billion dollar dam, it seems that there needs to be some big changes at this public water agency special district.

  2. Mike is raising an important issue that impacts not just NID customers but everyone in the state because we are the source for 2/3 of the developed water in the state. Show up and support this effort!

  3. Thank you Mike for informing us about the NIDs use of pesticides. This is not acceptable for the waters that support the lives of people, wildlife and food sources. It appears that NID has lost the idea of what it means to be good stewards in charge of protecting our waterways healthfully. I’m appalled that this is happening and worsening.
    This calls for “Water Protector” action from our community.

  4. Whilst I am sure these chemicals comply with State and Federal Laws, NID’s again misses the mark yet again in public perception…every step of the the way they reload and shoot themselves in the foot~

  5. I’m curious if Mr. Pasner will cease operations in this community now that he knows that he cannot truly claim his product is “organic”, or if he will let his customers know about the potential chemicals in everything he sells. If it is that much of a threat, you will need to plow that crop under until the situation is resolved.

    1. Maybe you overlooked this sentence “None of these toxins makes it into my organic farm’s irrigation system!” Or maybe you didn’t?

  6. Money, it’s always about money. Why employ people to whack and clear when one guy can spray crap on a mile of the ditch a day?

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