In the case of freshwater salmon, both increased restrictions on application spray buffers and geographically-specific use limitations have been proposed in response to NMFS recommendations. Specific recommendations are as follows:

  • A surface runoff buffer of 100 feet to all salmon habitats, which EPA has defined as including irrigation ditches and drains
  • Aerial blast and ground boom spray drift buffers of 100-1000 feet, depending on application rate, spray nozzle type, and width/depth of adjacent waters
  • Spray drift and surface runoff buffers between treated areas and salmon habitat, including waters draining into salmon habitat

As previously noted, each of these recommendations has serious implications for agriculture. Currently, actual salmon habitat is protected by use labeling addressing lakes, rivers, reservoirs, etc., where salmon live and breed. The newly-mandated buffer zones would include all water potentially draining into salmon habitat, even if the potential is somewhat slim, and even if the runoff would occur over a period of time during which chlorpyrifos would break down in the water.

Quoted from the current label:

“…permanent bodies of water such as rivers, natural ponds, lakes, streams, reservoirs, marshes, estuaries, and commercial fish ponds”

Quoted from EPA proposal:

“…freshwater salmonid habitats including flowing water and water that may be only temporarily connected to flowing water including intermittent streams, off-channel habitats, drainages, ditches, and other man-made conveyances that lack salmonid exclusion devices”

These new restrictions would virtually prohibit chlorpyrifos use in large portions (176,000 square miles) of the states of California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. While the spray buffers apply only to sprayable products, the runoff buffers would apply to all formulations, including granular products.

A third party analysis of these restrictions determined that “as much as two-thirds of the areas impacted could be deemed “no spray zones.”

NMFS assumptions regarding product misuse or accidental overspray is problematic in that these occurrences are illegal according to the product labels. Is it the intent to evaluate legal, regulated uses or all circumstances that may occur? – Washington State Department of Agriculture

Dow AgroSciences continues to work with EPA on its intended approach to the NMFS BiOp, providing feedback on process and scientific issues that need to be addressed, even while remaining concerned about resolution of important details bearing on that approach and even though the Agency’s approach remains more highly restrictive than scientific assessments and state monitoring data suggest is warranted. Additionally, Dow AgroSciences continues to believe that all parties – including agricultural stakeholders - need to have input into plans for implementing these new restrictions.