Waters of the U.S.
Forest management is a long-term land use with infrequent fertilizer and chemical use. The use of pesticides and herbicides is regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). After more than 40 years of effective implementation of that law, a federal court ruled application of these products also requires a permit under the Clean Water Act where application to water has been authorized under FIFRA.
Congress should remove the redundant regulation and ensure that forest owners can continue to economically apply herbicides as an effective tool for forest regrowth since herbicide application is essential to help young trees compete with other vegetation.
Nutrient Water Quality Standards
In addition to creating a technology-based point source permit program for pollution discharges into waters of the U.S., the CWA also includes a water quality-based approach carried forward from earlier water quality laws. This approach is based on maintaining in specific water bodies water quality standards established for individual pollutants and can be either numeric, (e.g., pollutant X shall not exceed Y units of measurement in a water body) or narrative (e.g., qualitatively describing the desired condition of the water body) .
Section 303(d) of the CWA requires states to survey their waters and identify those water bodies which cannot meet an applicable water quality standard. The state must then adopt a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for the pollutant in the particular water body. The TMDL will prescribe the pollutant limits for point source discharges and recommend, or require depending on state law, specific control measures for nonpoint sources needed to achieve attainment of standards.
States may adopt water quality standards for such pollutants as temperature, sediment, and nutrients, all of which may implicate nonpoint source activities such as forest management; those standards may also be used as the basis for point source permit requirements. Forest managers must be vigilant as states develop water quality standards for pollutants and TMDLs if those standards cannot be met.