AS SEEN IN Quorum, Washington Metropolitan Chapter, Community Associations Institute, May 2012: Written by Industry Expert Shannon Junior, Aquatic Ecologist
For more information visit the Environmental Protection Agency's web site.
After many years of judicial and legislative battling, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for aquatic pesticide applications has been finalized and went into effect Oct. 31, 2011. If you manage a community with a pond, lake or stormwater best management practices (BMP), then there is a high probability that this new permit will directly affect your community. NPDES is the primary federal legislation that regulates point source pollution to the waters of the U.S. Although aquatic pesticide applications were previously exempt from this permitting requirement, recent judicial reinterpretation of the law has mandated that the residues resulting from these applications should be regulated within the same framework as other water pollutants. So basically, if you own or manage a community with a pond, then you will be responsible for making sure that all pesticide applications related to the pond meet the requirements of the new permit. Some of the activities that will be regulated under this permit include algae and weed treatments in the water, shoreline vegetation control and mosquito control. And the most important part of this new law is that as a decision-maker or financier for the applications, the community is just as liable for permit compliance as the applicator.
Although NPDES is a federal permit, the legislation is implemented by the individual states in most cases, so the permit requirements are not the same in every state. In general, the permit requirements are geared to minimize the overall amount of pesticides applied to the water, to reduce the number of adverse incidents related to pesticide applications and to ensure that violators are held accountable for their actions.
Since the decision-maker/financier and the applicator are “co-permittees,” defined in the permit as “operators,” the conditions of compliance may be the responsibility of one party, but are the liability of both. For instance, the decision-maker/financier will need to demonstrate that Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies have been considered prior to the decision to apply pesticides. This may include nonchemical control methods such as pond aeration, beneficial bacteria and triploid grass carp. Other permit requirements, such as the identification of target vegetation and the proper calibration of the application equipment would be controlled by the applicator. Permit compliance information will need to be maintained for each site, in addition to detailed documentation of each pesticide application. For operators exceeding certain application thresholds—limits vary by state, a Pesticide Discharge Management Plan (PDMP) will need to be prepared and continually updated, which will outline the specific procedures utilized by that operator to control and minimize the amount of pollutants discharged into state waters. Some states will also require that all operators exceeding the thresholds submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) prior to any treatments, with a permit fee to be paid at the time of submittal.
So what exactly is your responsibility as the pond owner or manager? Because the permit requirements vary by state and are based on site-specific conditions, there is no standard answer to this question. However, you will need to be familiar with the specific pesticide regulations for your state and work with your aquatic pesticide applicator to develop a compliance program for your pond or lake. It is important to ensure that all aquatic pesticide applications to your pond or lake are completed by knowledgeable, experienced and licensed aquatic applicators that are aware of and compliant with the new regulations.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.
Shannon Junior is an Aquatic Ecologist with SOLitude Lake Management. Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Services are available throughout the Eastern United States. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.