GCSAA reviewing EPA's final Pesticide General Permit

The EPA's Pesticide General Permit (PGP) went into effect Oct. 31 after negotiations in the U.S. Senate to delay the court-ordered Clean Water Act (CWA) permit for chemical spraying activities broke down. For the first 120 days the permit is in effect, EPA will focus on providing compliance assistance and education of the permit requirements, rather than on enforcement actions. GCSAA staff is now reviewing the EPA’s final PGP, which covers six states, and is working with chapters to review the other 44 state permit requirements.

On Oct. 31, 2011, the EPA issued a final NPDES PGP for point source discharges from the application of pesticides to waters of the U.S. This action was in response to a 2009 decision by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (National Cotton Council, et al. v. EPA), in which the court vacated the EPA's 2006 Final Rule on Aquatic Pesticides. The court decision also found that point source discharges of biological pesticides and chemical pesticides that leave a residue into waters of the U.S. were pollutants under the CWA.

The EPA’s final PGP covers operators that apply pesticides for: (1) mosquito and other flying insect pest control; (2) weed and algae control; (3) animal pest control; and (4) forest canopy pest control. The permit requires permittees to minimize pesticide discharges through the use of pest management measures and monitor for and report any adverse incidents. Some permittees are also required to submit NOIs prior to beginning to discharge and implement integrated pest management (IPM)-like practices.

The general permit provides coverage for discharges in the areas where the EPA is the NPDES permitting authority -- Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The remaining 44 states are required to develop and issue their own NPDES pesticide permits.

Read the EPA's final permit, or find state NPDES PGP contacts.

Look for more compliance guidance from GCSAA in the coming weeks. GCSAA members should continue to use our online automated action alert to press for passage of H.R. 872, a bill to negate the need for the permit. For help, contact Chava McKeel, senior manager of information and public policy, at 800-472-7878.