The first thing you need to know is when and where the spray activity will occur – using FERNS. You will likely need to politely call the forester or spray operator to verify the chemicals that they plan to use. Depending on the situation, it might be best to work with a DEQ staff person and/or your ODF stewardship forester to get this information. Then follow the steps below – remembering that the more documentation you collect (notes or voice recordings of actions and observations, pictures and videos…) the better.
- Pick a lab that can test for the herbicide(s) you are concerned about.
- Here is a list of labs in the state that can test for herbicides, published by OSU extension (side note that you can also test soil and plant material for herbicide presence; this information is included). We have used Pacific Ag Labs in the past; here is their list of chemicals and prices.
- Pick a location downstream from the planned spray to take your water sample. Make sure you are on your own property, public property, or that you have permission from the landowner to be at that location. Mark the location with a GPS device (or app).
- Take a baseline sample, or several. Before logging activity begins, visit the sampling location and collect the sample (wearing gloves) using the container either sent by or directed to use by the lab who will be analyzing the sample. Label, seal and package as directed. It is best if you take footage that shows the water being collected, the container being labeled/sealed/packaged, and an image of the GPS location all in one video. If you want to be sure your results are verified by state agencies, you will need to have someone from DEQ or another qualified agency person with you when you collect the sample.
- After the spray has occurred, return and complete step 3. You can take as many post-spray samples as you can afford, but we commend taking one after a significant rain (0.5 inches or more).
- The lab will send you the results. We recommend getting in touch with your local watershed council and the appropriate DEQ staff person for you area to discuss and interpret any results. We also recommend getting in touch with your stewardship forester to share results. If you want legal counsel regarding your results or the collection process, we recommend getting in touch with Beyond Toxics.