By Becky Kington MWCA Executive Director
Attention Weed Managers and Commercial Applicators, if you have to date not taken the time to view emails on this subject or you are ignoring this permit because it may seem daunting and/or you are busy, I cannot urge you strongly enough to take a moment to read this email and follow through with a quick assignment. At no time in Montana’s history have weed managers faced proposed legislation that would so greatly adversely impact them and weed management efforts in Montana. This legislation will impact you if you are an agency applicator, a commercial applicator or a private applicator and if you are one who grabs the Round-up and does a little weekend weed management, this will also affect you. It will also affect mosquito districts and treatment of pine bark beetle.
The proposed NPDES permit (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) was proposed because of a sixth court ruling where the EPA lost lawsuits in every circuit concerning the clean water act and pesticides. Previously, EPS’s 2006 rule stated that NPDES permits were not required for applications of pesticides when in compliance with FIFRA labels. Now all weed managers will be required to file for a permit when spraying over or near U.S. waters and that includes irrigation ditches and ponds; any body of water that can flow into waters of the U.S.
This permit is filled with unrealistic expectations in light of the fact pesticide application is weather dependent, duplicating existing efforts, and huge potential cost impacts. Just a couple of highlights from yesterday’s listening session:
It was suggested by EPA that the best way to file a permit would be online, however, Montana will not be set up to complete this function, so the time frame to not only receive permission to treat would be lengthy (and you are not permitted to apply if near or over water if you do not have your permit/management plan in place) and the Montana office may not fully understand how many weed managers will need to file a permit in Montana. This permit is to take effect in April of 2011.
You have ten days to complete application after approval.
There will be a fee attached to each and every permit.
The authors of this permit are currently trying to determine if a permit will apply a single body of water, or if a permit will be applied to an area (such as a watershed or a county). MWCA and MDA will be pushing for a possible state-wide permit.
Montana Dept of Ag already has scientific-based data based on their monitoring of waters in the state (no other state does) and the incidents of high levels of pesticides in the water are minimal or non-existent; meaning we already have responsible applicators in Montana who do adhere to the label. Applicators who already adhere to FIFRA labels, will have to duplicate efforts to comply with the federal law.
Citizens will be able to sue anyone who applies herbicide over or near water with this new permit and the fines could reach $37,500 per day if an applicator is found in violation of the clean water act.
Montana DEQ personnel stated yesterday that if a weed truck rolls into a river on the way to a meeting (not in their county) they are in violation of the clean water act and can be fined, unless they have a permit in that area. They were not able to answer the question “Will this scenario will mean all applicators will have to have a permit for their traveling area or entire state?”
It is imperative that you send in your comments and concerns to the EPA by July 19th (next Monday) for public comment. Save your comments, because Montana DEQ will also be asking for public comment in the near future. There will be parties who will certainly be working to get this legislation passed as drafted, but weed managers need to provide enough comment and information to change the criteria outlined in this permit so that if passed that it contains regulation that is realistic when Mother Nature is one of the elements of use of pesticides and the paperwork and costs are not prohibitive. You can simply write up your concerns and comments in a Word document and email those comments to email@example.com. You can click here for the fact sheet or here for the FAQ.
Your contacts for more answers or information would be David Rise with Montana EPA Region 8 at Rise.David@epamail.epa.gov or Jenny Chambers, Bureau Chief of Water Protection Bureau, DEQ at firstname.lastname@example.org
MWCA Executive Director
Additional NPDES related information links:
Comment Guidelines document by Jim Skillen, Director of Science & Regulatory Affairs for RISE and Carlton Layne, Executive Director for the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation that is targeted at small businesses and applicators of aquatic pesticides.
Source: Montana Weed Control Association
In an interview with Northern Ag, David Rise provided the contact information for submitting comments, from the Federal Register Notice public noticing the draft. He suggested that nubmers 1 and 2, in red, are probably the easiest way to submit the comments. Click here to view that document. The docket number ( EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0257) is located on the top of the sheet.
Click here to view a presentation given by David Rise to interested groups on July 12. The information is basic but was followed by roughly two hours of discussion.
The draft permit, permit fact sheet, federal register notice and archived webcast are available at www.epa.gov/npdes/pesticides.
Posted by Kaci Switzer