Agricultural water used to grow fresh produce can carry and distribute human pathogens. Surface water is more likely to be contaminated by human and animal fecal material than ground water because it is open to the environment. Therefore, it poses a much greater risk to human health when surface water used for irrigation or protective sprays directly contacts the edible portion of the crop. Surface water available for fresh fruit and vegetable production has been found to be contaminated with human pathogens such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium. Water distribution systems are also of concern, because these systems distribute water throughout the farm and can become contaminated if pipes, backflow devices, or other pieces of the distribution system are not in good condition and functioning properly.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture