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Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy

NYSDEC released the Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy (Strategy) (PDF) (1.85 MB), which contains the blueprint for a new pesticide pollution prevention approach on Long Island. Effective July 11, 2014, the overall goal of the Strategy is to protect water quality from pesticide-related impacts, while continuing effective pest management on Long Island. See the press release from June 5, 2014.

The goal of the Strategy is to prevent adverse effects on human health and the environment by protecting Long Island's groundwater and surface water resources from pesticide-related contamination, while continuing to meet the pest management needs of the agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors. To achieve this goal, the Strategy presents a blueprint consisting of five multi-party action steps to identify, assess, and implement viable pollution prevention measures, and to allow for monitoring and evaluation of progress and modification as needed. Pollution prevention (P2) presents a number of benefits, such as minimizing the introduction of pesticide-related contaminants and fostering the use of practices which avoid such contamination.

Within 6 months of the Strategy becoming effective, DEC anticipates convening a Technical Review and Advisory Committee (TRAC) - consisting of a diverse group of stakeholders in pest management and Long Island water quality protection - to advise the Department on factors such as pesticide use patterns, aquifer vulnerability, human health risks, and recommended alternatives and pollution prevention measures. DEC will then consider these recommendations and determine the priority of P2 measures to implement.

The pesticide P2 blueprint for Long Island and a summary of other elements of the Strategy are contained in the Executive Summary (PDF) (179 KB). The Strategy is also available at the NYSDEC regional offices and at the Central Office in Albany.

TRAC Meetings

The first meeting of the TRAC is scheduled for October 30, 2014 in Stony Brook, NY.

The meeting agenda will be posted when finalized. A letter announcing the meeting (PDF - 143 KB) was sent to Stakeholders who commented on the draft Strategy. Groundwater data and pesticide usage maps for Long Island are currently being prepared.

Draft Long Island Pollution Prevention Strategy

DEC released the draft Long Island Pollution Prevention Strategy in January 2013. During the 90-day public comment period, about 160 distinct comments on the draft Strategy were received in the form of letters, emails and verbal comments made during public hearings. A Responsiveness Summary (PDF) (184 KB) addressing these comments is available.

DEC made changes to the draft Strategy based on comments received, clarifying the factors that will be considered in pursuing P2 measures and other appropriate actions, establishing water quality goals and pollution reduction targets, and measuring the Strategy's success. For more information on the Development of the Strategy, see Summary Information on the Strategy.

Summary Information on the Strategy

Groundwater Protection and Pest Management

Pesticides are used on Long Island to limit the potentially harmful effects of a wide range of pests that affect people, companion animals, wildlife, structures, agricultural crops and other plants. They play an important role in managing pests in agricultural, commercial, residential and institutional settings. Nevertheless, pesticides pose a potential threat to groundwater quality when they are misused in violation of pesticide laws, rules and regulations, including use in contravention of label directions (pesticide misuse). Pesticides may also pose a threat to groundwater, even when they are lawfully used in accordance with label directions, if their use pattern or chemical and physical properties are such that they have an increased potential to leach through soil.

drawing of the hydrologic cycle
The hydrologic cycle or water cycle shows the general movement
of water above, on and below the surface and features of the Earth.
Groundwater is recharged and affected by the hydrologic cycle.

The sole source aquifer system underlying Long Island is a special natural resource relied upon by over three million people as their principal source of clean, potable water. Pesticide active ingredients and their breakdown products have been detected in Long Island groundwater, as shown in routine water quality monitoring data of various county and federal agencies. (A set of detailed Suffolk County Monitoring Results (PDF) (2.36 MB) is available, separate from the Strategy.) The Strategy establishes a path to maintaining effective pest management, while protecting water resources.

The Goal of the Strategy

The goal of the Strategy is two-pronged:

  • Prevent adverse effects on human health and the environment by protecting Long Island's groundwater and surface water resources from pesticide-related contamination, and, concurrently,
  • Continue to meet pest management needs of agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors.

Benefits of Pollution Prevention to Meet the Goal

Preventing pollution is the first step in environmental protection. When implemented by all involved partners, the blueprint for action of the Strategy will work to avert pesticide-related contamination of water resources and result in benefits such as:

  • Avoiding or minimizing the introduction of new pesticide-related contaminants,
  • Helping speed the cessation or reduction of further contamination from existing pesticide-related chemicals,
  • Fostering use of practices and products which avert pesticide-related contamination,
  • Reducing overall impacts and risks associated with pesticide-related contaminants,
  • Creating opportunity for dialogue with academia, government, pesticide manufacturers, pesticide users, and other stakeholders regarding potential development and promotion of pollution prevention measures, methods and products,
  • Establishing pesticide pollution prevention partnerships and effective P2 outreach,
  • Supplement the existing effective pesticide product registration program.

Pesticide Pollution Prevention Blueprint Summary

To meet this goal, the Strategy's pollution prevention blueprint is based on cooperative stakeholder involvement. The following is a summary of the blueprint:

  • DEC conducts initial assessments of specific active ingredients (AIs) and related pesticide P2 needs
  • DEC forms, convenes and chairs pesticide P2 workgroups; workgroups consider various matters regarding specified AIs and related P2 and advise DEC
  • DEC identifies and prioritizes pesticide P2 measures and partners collaborate to implement P2 measures
  • DEC tracks pesticide P2 results and assesses need for P2 modifications
  • DEC maximizes department use of on-going and enhanced water quality monitoring for pesticides in groundwater and surface waters of Long Island, which is a key component of implementing the entire blueprint.

Detailed steps to implement the blueprint are contained in the Executive Summary and in Chapter 3 of the complete Strategy.

Pollution prevention has a proven, successful track record with the Department. It is already part of the pest management program and threaded through other Department programs, from stormwater pollution prevention to mercury management and more. A brief description of existing and past pesticide P2 measures taken by NYSDEC and local and regional entities on Long Island is contained in supplemental information (PDF) (630 KB), separate from the Strategy.

Development of the Strategy

Several events lead up to the Department's development of the Strategy:

  • The idea for a pesticide use plan for Long island arose as a result of a 1996 proposed federal rule, which would have indirectly required states to develop State Management Plans to address potential contamination from the application of certain pesticides.
  • The State Pesticide Reporting Law was enacted the same year and it required the Department to develop and implement a groundwater monitoring program for pesticides. The Department's first annual report under the law, issued in 1998, included a recommendation that the Department develop a Long Island Pesticides Management Plan (Plan).
  • The Department began drafting a plan in response to the proposed federal rule, which was circulated for limited stakeholder review. Although the Plan was modified and amended over time, it was largely undeveloped until 2009, when the Department revisited and revised the Plan, convened a 25-member Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and distributed the draft Plan to stakeholders for review and comment. The most recent version of the previous draft Plan was shared with stakeholders in October 2011. Note that the federal rule was not finalized and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently advised that it plans to withdraw the rule.
  • The Department has revised the previous draft Plan into a workable Strategy based on a pollution prevention approach.
  • On January 30, 2013, The Department released the Draft Long Island Pollution Prevention Strategy based on a pollution prevention approach. During the 90-day comment period on the Draft Strategy, the DEC received about 50 distinct comment letters and emails from individuals and organizations, as well as about 950 form letters. DEC also held two public meetings in April 2013.
  • The Department prepared a written responsiveness summary based on comments received. In revising the Strategy, DEC clarified the factors that will be considered in pursuing P2 measures and other appropriate actions, establishing water quality goals and pollution reduction targets, and measuring the Strategy's success. The Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy is effective July 11, 2014.

Outreach Efforts

The Department met in February 2013 with the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), a 25-member group representing the primary entities involved in pesticide and/or groundwater management on Long Island, which was formed and invited to contribute to the development of the previous draft Plan. The Department also held two meetings in late February with representatives of several stakeholder groups to discuss the Strategy and their proposed roles in its implementation. There were a total of about 70 attendees at the meetings, which included representatives of included pesticide product manufacturers and applicators, academia, public interest groups, professional associations, Nassau and Suffolk County water quality and public health agencies, and the NYS Departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets. The Department presented an overview of the Strategy (PDF) (2.15 MB) at the TAC and stakeholder meetings. Participants offered positive feedback on the Strategy's pollution prevention approach and the critical role that stakeholder collaboration will play in achieving its goal.


More about Long Island Pesticide Pollution Prevention Strategy:

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