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Regulation of Pesticides Applied to U.S. Waters

A permit is now required for certain pesticide applications made to U.S. waters. Under the Clean Water Act, biological pesticides and the leftover residues from pesticide applications are considered pollutants. Permits issued from the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) cover those applications where pesticides will be discharged from a point source (including nozzles, pipes, ditches, channels, etc.) into "waters of the U.S." Examples of "waters of the U.S." include things like streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and tidal waters. Dry canals, mudflats, and wetlands may also be considered "waters of the U.S."

Who's in charge of the NPDES permits?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a NPDES Pesticide General Permit (PGP) that covers pesticide applications in a few states and territories, including:

The remaining 44 states and the Virgin Islands are not covered by the EPA issued PGP. These states are authorized to develop and issue their own NPDES pesticide permits which can be more, but not less, restrictive than the EPA's PGP.

What kind of applications require a permit?

At a minimum, permits are required when pesticides will be applied into "waters of the U.S." and fall into one of these usage categories:

States may require permits for other kinds of pesticide applications, as well. Find a contact person in your state for more information.

What does the permit require applicators to do?

In addition to following the label directions, the permit requires the applicator to:

This is the minimum list of requirements. Your state-issued permit might include additional steps. Find a contact person in your state for more information.

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Additional Resources:

Last updated October 14, 2015

Related Topics:

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Integrated Pest Management

What are pesticides?

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Natural and Biological Pesticides

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