public policy

NPDES Permits

Background

The requirement for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits is a result of a 2009 U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Nat’l Cotton Council v. EPA.  The court determined that under the Clean Water Act (CWA) discharges of pollutants (chemical pesticides) into Waters of the United States (WOTUS) require an NPDES permit.  The ruling came despite EPA’s opposition and argument that pesticides applied in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are exempt from CWA’s permitting requirements. 

Use patterns relevant to the structural pest management industry that may require an NPDES permit include:

  • Mosquito and Other Flying Insect Pest Control—to control public health/nuisance and other flying insect pests that develop or are present during a portion of their life cycle in or above standing or flowing water. Public health/nuisance and other flying insect pests in this use category include mosquitoes and black flies.
  • Weed and Algae Pest Control—to control weeds, algae, and pathogens that are pests in water and at water’s edge, including ditches and/or canals.
  • Animal Pest Control—to control animal pests in water and at water’s edge. Animal pests in this use category include fish, lampreys, insects, mollusks, and pathogens.

Even more onerous requirements are triggered if annual applications of pesticides to WOTUS exceed a predetermined threshold level.  For the mosquito/flying insects use pattern the annual threshold is 6,400 acres and for both weed/algae and animal pest control the threshold is 20 linear miles or 80 acres.  Once the threshold is reached additional reporting requirements become mandatory, including filing a Notice of Intent (NOI) with the appropriate agency, recordkeeping of all applications to WOTUS and annual reporting.  

Under FIFRA, human health and environmental impacts are reviewed on all pesticides that are registered for use with strict directions for use on the EPA approved product label. A thorough review and accounting of impacts to water quality and aquatic species is included in every EPA registration and reregistration decision. Requiring water permits for pesticide applications is redundant and provides no additional environmental benefit. In addition, EPA’s new far-reaching definition of WOTUS could result in an unnecessary expansion of NPDES permitting and reporting.

Position

Compliance with unnecessary NPDES water permits imposes duplicative resource burdens on thousands of pest management professionals, with no commensurate environmental benefits.  Pest management professionals are tasked with protecting public health from deadly diseases and vectors transmitted by mosquitos and other pests throughout the nation.   NPMA urges Congressional action on H. 897 to eliminate NPDES permits for lawful pesticide applications.

Support H.R. 897 the Zika Vector Control Act

NPMA strongly supports H.R. 897 the Zika Vector Control Act which would amends the Clean Water Act (CWA) to suspend the requirement to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits when applying pesticides directly to Waters of the U.S. through September of 2018.  Due to NPMA efforts Congressional leadership understands that these permits are unnecessary, burdensome and in some instances hinder our ability to protect people from dangerous and deadly diseases, like the Zika Virus. 

Click here to see talking points on NPDES permits

Click here to see a letter NPMA members sent to their elected official in support of H.R. 897 the Zika Vector Control Act

Click here to see a letter signed by a broad coalitions in support of H.R. 897

Click here to see a letter debunking misinformation about H.R. 897