EPA plan could create more problems than it solvesWEST FARGO, N.D. — The EPA has released a draft proposal for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit process for pesticide applications on or in water. This is a result of the 6th Circuit Court’s decision regarding National Cotton Council of America v. EPA.
By: Stanley Wolf,
WEST FARGO, N.D. — The EPA has released a draft proposal for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit process for pesticide applications on or in water. This is a result of the 6th Circuit Court’s decision regarding National Cotton Council of America v. EPA.
Upon reviewing the draft proposal, the North Dakota Weed Control Association has several major concerns with the NPDES process and how the permit and subsequent regulations may affect noxious weed control. Some of the concerns are: will road rights of way require a permit, control of financing and control of decision within a treatment area and size of threshold areas just to name a few.
The permit documentation states that agricultural land is exempt from needing a permit, unless residue of a pesticide may enter the waters of the United States. Road ditches are designed to channel storm waters away from the road surface toward a collection point, usually a pothole, lake, stream or river. Does this mean that the county weed boards will need to apply for a permit for all road rights of way?
Another major issue is that the permit holder (county weed board) needs to have “control of financing” or “control of decision.” Weed control boards offer private landowners a partial reimbursement of control costs through the Landowner Assistance Program. Also the weed control officer may issue a control order to the landowner to control their noxious weeds. Does the weed control board apply for a permit for all lands in the county? Also, all applicators need to be hired by the permit holder. Does that mean the weed control board had to “hire” all private landowners to apply herbicides on their own land?
Notice of intent
Once a permit is secured, a Notice of Intent needs to be filed if the area to be treated exceeds a threshold level. Now the fun begins. The NOI is basically a dissertation of everything that a weed control program is doing from identifying the target, describing the equipment used, how it is maintained, how it is calibrated, how the operators are trained to the types of control used from cultural, biological to pesticide. This NOI then will be posted by the EPA for public review for 10 days. If accepted, then the pesticide may then be applied. During the review period, anyone who thinks that the NOI is incomplete could challenge the permit.
This kind of oversight will be costly to weed control programs that operate on limited funds. The permit process offers no additional safeguards to the environment or additional instructions to the operators. All pesticide applications conducted by weed control pro-grams are highly regulated. All applicators need to be certified, pesticides must be approved by the EPA and registered with state agencies. Instructions on the pesticides label (approved by the EPA) are the law.
We ask the EPA to exempt noxious weed control programs from needing a permit for terrestrial noxious weeds in road rights of way. If not, the county weed control programs may be reduced, meaning noxious weeds may increase their expansion on the Dakota prairies.
Editor’s Note: Wolf is the North Dakota Weed Control Association president.