Need Water Permit to Spray Pesticides? File Electronically

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By Amena H. Saiyid

Oct. 25 — Pesticide applicators needing a general discharge permit to spray near waterways will have to submit their requests electronically, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

In a regulatory first, the EPA is requiring electronic notification to seek or terminate coverage and to file annual reports under the final 2016 Clean Water Act pesticide general permit. The existing five-year National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for applying pesticides near U.S. waters, which expires Oct. 31, doesn’t require electronic notification. It was issued in 2011.

More than 365,000 pesticide users—including state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito-control districts, pesticide applicators, farmers, ranchers and forest managers—would have to get a discharge permit to spray near waters regulated under the Clean Water Act. Entities seeking coverage under the general permit have to meet its requirements and submit a notice of intent for coverage.

The new permit adds a provision that requires a permit applicant to consider the adverse effects of spraying on certain species identified as potentially at risk, but not formally listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Once it is published, the 2016 pesticide general permit will take effect in Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Washington, D.C., where the EPA is the permitting authority. It also will apply in all U.S. territories except the Virgin Islands and at federal facilities in Delaware, Vermont, Colorado and Washington, and in all Indian country lands except Maine.

States that have been delegated to run their own Clean Water Act permit programs can adopt the EPA’s general pesticide permit or adapt it to suit their own conditions.

The EPA said the 2016 permit has the same conditions and requirements as the 2011 NPDES permit and was issued in response to a 2009 federal appellate ruling. At the time, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated the EPA regulation exempting permitting requirements under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act for pesticide applications in or near water ( Nat’l Cotton Council v. EPA, 553 F.3d 927, 68 ERC 1129, 2009 BL 1441 (6th Cir. 2009)).

To contact the reporter on this story: Amena H. Saiyid in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at

For More Information

More information about EPA’s 2016 pre-publication pesticide general permit is available at

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