Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MPDES)

In early 2009, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (based in Cincinnati) issued its opinion on National Cotton Council of America v. EPA. The National Cotton Council case addressed challenges that were filed against a November 27, 2006 EPA rule. The final EPA rule provided that pesticides applied in accordance with the Federal Fungicide, Insecticide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) labels were exempt from the discharge permit requirements of the Clean Water Act. The Sixth Circuit overturned the EPA rule. Therefore, those that apply pesticides in, on or near water must have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit – because Montana has primacy in implementing water quality laws users in Montana are required to obtain a Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) permit from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The provisions of FIFRA and the label restrictions still apply to ALL pesticide use. Clearly only pesticides that are labeled under FIFRA to be used in, on, or near water would be subject to the requirement to obtain an MPDES permit. Applying pesticides that are not labeled for aquatic use in, or near water would be a violation of FIFRA.

Applicators are not required to have an individual permit but must comply with the general permit requirements provided at:

The Montana Pesticide General Permit (PGP) is the permitting mechanism for anyone who applies pesticides into or over state surface water. The PGP is not a pesticide permit; it is a wastewater discharge permit regulated under the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Montana Pollution Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) program. Discharge of pollutants to state water without a permit is a violation of the Montana Water Quality Act in 75-5-605, Montana Code Annotated (MCA).

A Notice of Intent (NOI) submittal is required before pesticide is applied to or over surface water. The NOI is a legal notification by the owner/operator to DEQ that they will comply with the PGP. An overview as well as permit application materials are available at:

If the application of pesticides occurs within the boundaries of Indian Lands, the owner/operator will need to comply with the permit requirements of the EPA’s Pesticide Program