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National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Pesticide Permitting

The NPDES permitting program regulates discharges from pesticide applications consistent with section 402 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Point source discharges of biological pesticides and chemical pesticides that leave a residue in waters of the U.S. are required to comply with NPDES requirements. EPA and the states issue Pesticide General Permits (PGPs) under the NPDES program to offer coverage for pesticide operators. Activities not eligible for coverage under a PGP may be eligible for coverage under an individual permit.

The agency that issues an NPDES permit for discharges from pesticide applications depends on the location of those applications. In most cases, the state environmental protection regulatory agency (e.g., the Department of Environmental Quality or Department of Natural Resources) is the NPDES permitting authority and issues the NPDES permits for activities in their state.

EPA issues the PGP only for areas and activities where the states are not authorized. Specifically, EPA is the NPDES permitting authority for pesticide discharges in:

  • Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Washington D.C.,
  • All U.S. territories except the Virgin Islands,
  • Activities associated with oil, gas, or geothermal resources in Texas,
  • Federal facilities in Delaware, Vermont, Colorado, and Washington, and
  • All Indian Country except in Maine.

In the remaining areas, EPA authorizes the state or territory to develop and issue pesticide permits. Operators in those states or territories should contact their appropriate environmental regulatory agency for more information on permit requirements.

EPA's draft 2021 Pesticide General Permit (PGP) was published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2021. Once finalized, the 2021 PGP will replace the 2016 PGP currently in place. 

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