Issue 2, April 30, 2012


On November 1, 2011, the federal requirement for an NPDES permit for certain pesticide applications went into effect.

Essentially if you are applying any pesticide "in" or "on" water you are affected. There currently are no exemptions for farmers, municipalities or state agencies. Lawn care companies, golf courses, mosquito abatement districts, conservation districts and homeowner association are all included. The only water sources not covered by the NPDES permit are backyard ponds, swimming pools or bird baths.

A little hazier is the third aspect of "near water's edge." It's harder to define, and most definitely may affect more people.

Essentially, if the product you are using around the water's edge, be it a ditch, pond/lake/stream/river or other moveable water source, you have to consider weather forecasts, slope, nearness of the water source, and whether the product has a residue that can eventually cause problems. Using "Best Professional Judgment" should help you determine whether you need a permit or not. Spraying on flat ground where there is little if no chance of pesticide movement is safe.

Illinois EPA (IL-EPA) is the lead agency on the NPDES permit process. Either the spray applicator or the land owner (municipality, park district, homeowner association, homeowner, farmer) must have a permit, which is called an NOI (Notice of Intent) which is a form stating you plan to apply pesticides "in", "on," or "near water's edge."

The University of Illinois Pesticide Safety Education Team has prepared an FAQ to answer many of the questions involving NPDES and the relatively simple application process. Go to for the summary and FAQ with links to the IL-EPA's application.

There currently is no fee for the NOI permit; the permit is good for 5 years. (David Robson)

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