NPDES Permit Deadline In Effect Oct. 31GCSAA attended Oct. 12 EPA meeting to hear updates on issues affecting superintendents
In a major development for superintendents, the EPA announced Oct. 12 at its Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., that it will not ask for an extension of the Oct. 31, 2011, permit deadline on its controversial Clean Water Act permit for pesticide spraying activities. This means that superintendents cannot apply pesticides in, over or near waters of the U.S. without coverage under a CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit after Nov. 1. GCSAA staff attending the meeting heard this and other updates on issues important to the golf course management profession, including Endangered Species Act consultation process improvements and the agency's upcoming release of new spray drift guidance.
The EPA is developing the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for pesticide applications in, over or near waters of the U.S. in response to a 2009 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in National Cotton Council v. EPA. GCSAA has made available to its members a 15-minute podcast to provide background information on the new CWA NPDES pesticide general permit and its applicability to golf facilities. The members-only podcast includes information on how superintendents can help push for passage of H.R. 872, a bill currently residing in the U.S. Senate that would negate the need for the unnecessary and duplicative permit.
Once finalized, the EPA's NPDES Pesticide General Permit (PGP) will cover pesticide applications in the areas where the EPA is the permitting authority, which include Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Idaho, Oklahoma, Alaska, the District of Columbia, most U.S. territories and Indian country lands, and many federal facilities. In the other 44 states, the state NPDES authorities will issue the permits. All permittees will have to comply with the requirements of the EPA's NPDES PGP on Nov. 1, but permittees in states where the EPA has permit authority will have until Jan. 12, 2012, to submit their notices of intent to obtain coverage.
Superintendents in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Idaho, Oklahoma, Alaska, or D.C. can read a copy of the final draft permit from the EPA. If you're a superintendent in any other state, learn more about compliance obligations.
In addition to the permit, the EPA plans to publish a detailed fact sheet accompanying forms to document compliance activities, an electronic notice of intent database, and an updated decision tree tool to help users determine if they need to apply for the permit. Look for additional news updates and compliance information on this issue in upcoming issues of This Week.
At the PPDC meeting, EPA officials also announced their plans to publish by the end of 2011 new spray drift guidance for new pesticide labels to reduce off-target spray and dust drift. The EPA plans to publish guidance to state and tribal officials about how the agency intends the new drift labeling statements to be interpreted, as well as provide typical examples of how the labeling could be interpreted by enforcement officials in real-world drift cases.
PPDC committee members also discussed the current Endangered Species Act consultation process between federal agencies. Section 7 of the ESA requires the EPA and other federal agencies to consult with federal wildlife agencies to ensure their decisions do not harm protected species. GCSAA is closely monitoring ESA-related activities because a suite of anti-pesticide activist-driven lawsuits in the Northwest since 2000 has resulted in pesticide use restrictions at golf courses.
The PPDC, established in 1995, provides a forum for a diverse group of stakeholders to provide feedback to the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs on various regulatory, policy and program implementation issues. PPDC members includes grower groups, public interest groups, public health interests, chemical associations, academia and federal agencies.