The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented its Clean Water Act (CWA) permit for pesticide applications on Oct. 31. EPA developed a pesticide general permit and consulted with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish & Wildlife Service on issues related to endangered and threatened species. States not subject to EPA’s PGP have developed their own permits. At the end of October, EPA implemented the PGP for the six states the agency has direct responsibility over (ID, NH, NM, OK, ME, AK), although Congressional legislative efforts continue to relieve pesticide users from this permitting burden. Forty-four other states have issued or will soon issue their versions of EPA’s PGP.
The final PGP was effective immediately upon publication, so to ease compliance burdens for the many thousands of affected parties who needed time to become acquainted with PGP requirements, EPA announced a phase-in of 120 days (through February 2012) during which it will focus on compliance assistance related to the PGP, rather than enforcement. This does not mean it will not enforce violations, however, and CWA citizen suits may be filed at any time.
Most of the other 44 states will similarly phase-in compliance requirements and enforcement of their PGPs. These other states’ PGPs vary widely, from very restrictive to minimally restrictive, and are in various stages of implementation. More than half of these state PGPs are designed to protect waters of the state, which are generally more expansive (e.g., include groundwater and most surface waters) than federal waters of the United States.
Specifics about the summary of NPDES PGP and the status of states' permits are available by contacting CropLife America or ARA.