SACRAMENTO (CN) – Pesticide manufacturers sued the California Water Board, claiming it violated the state’s Clean Water Act by adopting a water quality plan based on data from an unofficial study.
The Pyrethroid Working Group claims the Central Coast Region of the State Water Resources Control Board used pesticide measurements from a UC Davis study to classify streams and rivers in the Santa Maria watershed as polluted.
The watershed is in northwestern Santa Barbara County and southwestern San Luis Obispo County, with its eastern edge in Ventura County.
The pesticide makers say the water board adopted UC Davis’ numeric values to measure pesticide levels without having them thoroughly tested or approved by the state.
Pyrethroids are a class of active ingredients in insecticides, including bifenthrin, cyfluthrin and cypermethrin. They are used to kill flying insects such as flies, ants and silverfish, and are carcinogenic and highly toxic to fish and birds.
The pesticide makers claim: “The Central Coast Water Board did not evaluate the data and information relied upon to support additional impairment determinations for certain pyrethroid pesticides according to the decision rules provided in the listing policy and mandated by a weight-of-evidence approach.”
The water board amended its water quality plan for the Central Coastal Basin in 2014, to include a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for pollutants.
The insecticide makers claim that before the board adopted the TMDL amendment, various waters in the basin were not listed as polluted by pyrethroids, and that the adopted water quality objectives are “narrative statements rather than set numeric values or limits.”
The Pyrethroid Working Group is an alliance of pesticide manufacturers that informs farmers and customers of new state and federal regulations.
In 2012, the California Department of Pesticide issued surface water regulations to users of the insecticides to curb chemical runoff and protect surface water.
The Water Board declined to comment on the lawsuit, but told Courthouse News the Santa Maria water quality plan was “developed following extensive public comment and scientific peer review,” and that “the plan was approved by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the State Water Resources Control Board, the California Office of Administrative Law and the U.S. EPA.”
The pesticide group seeks writ of mandate invalidating the water board’s determinations that the Santa Maria River and other tributaries are impaired for pyrethroid pesticides, and preventing the regulator from using the same process in evaluating the Salinas River Watershed.
The pesticide makers are represented by Theresa Dunham, with Somach Simmons & Dunn, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
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