What is in this article?:
- California is moving rapidly toward a virtual zero pollution policy that will mandate every farm and business adopt a management plan to keep water carrying pollutants out of lakes, streams, creeks, irrigation ditches and just about any other water body in the state.
- Licensed, professional consultants to play larger role in California water quality protection laws.
- Regulators pointing toward a zero tolerance policy.
- PCAs, CCAs to be conduit between farmers and dairyman.
All farmers and dairies in California will soon be required to assess their water management practices and evaluate how they impact water quality and adopt best management practices to mitigate any pollutants. Regulations will add to the cost of farming and dairying, not to mention hefty fines for pollution.
While pesticides, nitrates and salts have drawn the closet scrutiny, runoff sediments are drawing more attention lately since some chemicals, like pyrethroids, have been detected attached to sediments — not in the water, according to consultant Ehn. This is drawing water quality regulatory attentions along with pyrethroid use review. While it seems to be more of an urban issue, it will impact pyrethroid use in farming, he added.
Much anticipated federal regulation on National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) compliance had not shown up in the Federal Register by the time Vroom took the CAPCA podium in mid-October. The courts had ordered them to be in place by Nov. 1.
A federal lawsuit stemming from fish-killing pesticide pollutions in Oregon several years ago mandates a separate pesticide permitting process for any aquatic pesticide, or pesticide use near a waterway. The agchem industry contends existing laws already cover that.
The regulations address four unique situations that call for the application of crop and health protection products to water: mosquito and other flying insect pest control; aquatic weed and algae control; aquatic nuisance animal control; and forest canopy pest control. The agricultural industry has challenged the need for such regulations and has championed legislation to negate the court rulings. That has not been successful legislatively or in the courts.
Many states, including California, adopted NPDES regulations governing pesticide use in these situations in the wake of court rulings backing new rules. However, Vroom noted that without clear federal government regulations, agencies like mosquito control abatement districts and other are feeling vulnerable to litigation without final rules. They want to know what the feds have to say.
However, EPA has said for agencies not to worry that state regulatory agencies “know what to do” sans federal rules, according to Vroom. That is not very assuring in this litigious era, he said. The general aquatic permit will be used in states where EPA is the authorized permitting authority, leaving 44 remaining states to issue and implement their own NPDES permits, which presumably must comply with new EPA rules.
NPDES rules will cover 5.6 million applications nationwide annually by 365,000 applicators using more than 400 different pesticides in 3,500 product labels.