New Groundwater Management Rules & Regulations (includes Chemigation Rules)
The Nebraska Chemigation Act (Neb. Rev. Stat. §46-1101 thru 1148) and Title 195 “Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Chemigation” was passed in 1987 to help ensure that the ground and surface waters of the state would not be contaminated by backflow of chemicals from irrigation water application systems used to apply crop nutrients and pesticides (chemigation). The Nebraska Chemigation Act place certain requirements on anyone who uses chemigation in Nebraska. These rules are administered by each of the state’s 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ). The NRDs inspect the required chemigation safety equipment on chemigation systems, receive permit applications and fees, and issue chemigation site permits. The NDEQ developed the statewide regulations (Title 195).
The law requires a person directly involved in calibrating and monitoring a chemigation system to be certified by the Nebraska Dept. of Environmental Quality (NDEQ). To become a certified applicator, the law stipulates that the person attend a training session and pass a written exam to verify their knowledge of the Chemigation Act requirements. The NDEQ has subcontracted with UNL Extension to provide the training, proctor the exam, and deliver the results of the exam. NDEQ also issues the chemigation applicator certifications to persons who pass the written test. For testing dates, visit the NDEQ website.
Certification is good for four years, after which renewals are required. Current permits expire June 1 of each year. Applications will be mailed to you after February 1st. To renew your permit, send the $20 permit fee and application form to CPNRD by June 1. Renewal permits can be issued without an inspection, however, CPNRD is required to reinspect systems in operation on a spot-check basis. For more information on whether you need to attend a Chemigation Training, contact Sandy Noecker at (308) 385-6282.
Chemigation Violation Procedure
The violation procedure requires CPNRD to first send a written notice to violators to allow a chemigator to come into compliance. If no compliance is achieved, CPNRD notifies the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and issues an order to suspend operation until a permit is obtained. Once notice is provided to the violator, and regardless of whether voluntary compliance is achieved, CPNRD may alert the county attorney to initiate litigation. Civil penalties include $1,000 per day per site where a violation has occurred; and between $1,000-$5,000 per day per site for any subsequent violations.
Changes Made to Chemigation Program
SECTION D RULES & REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO THE CHEMIGATION PROGRAM
The Central Platte Natural Resources District has adopted the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s Title 195 – Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Chemigation with these additional Rules and Regulations. These Rules and Regulations were adopted and amended by the Board of Directors of the Central Platte Natural Resources District on March 26, 1987, June 27, 1991, March 19, 2009, and December 18, 2014.
PERMITS; WHEN REQUIRED, APPLICATIONS, AUTHORIZATION BY RULE
002.05 The name(s) of the certified applicator(s), their certification number and the expiration date of their certification.
a. The signature of the permit holder and the certified applicator(s) is required on all chemigation applications.
PERMITS/FEES – As required by Title 195, Chapter 3, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, the District shall review applications, conduct inspects, and approve or deny permits.
No permit may be approved without payment of the requisite permit fee, which shall reflect the cost of administration and inspections. An original application fee of $60.00 for each new permit shall be paid to the District, of which $5.00 shall be paid to the Department of Environmental Quality.
A special permit application fee of $60.00 shall be paid to the District, of which $5.00 shall be paid to the Department of Environmental Quality.
The annual renewal fee of $20.00 shall be paid to the District, of which $2.00 shall be paid to the Department of Environmental Quality.
An emergency permit application fee of $500.00 shall be paid to the District, of which $10.00 shall be paid to the Department of Environmental Quality.
EQUIPMENT; STANDARDS; INSTALLATION
002.05 The mainline check valve may be moved from site to site, provided there have been modifications made to the systems involved to accept a portable mainline check valve.
002.04 As the system is required to be started, brought to normal operating pressure, and shut down for the inspection process, a permit holder or applicator is required to be present during the inspection by District Staff. Inspectors will not operate any irrigation or chemigation equipment, nor will they open any electrical control box.
002.05 While the inspector may assist in removal and/or reattachment of the vacuum relief valve or injection line check valve, if so requested by the permit holder/applicator, the District will not be responsible for damage done to those valves during the removal and/or reattachment process, or for any valve defect. The District will replace any injection line check valve only if damaged during the testing process for that valve.
005.01 A full inspection requiring a start-up and shut-down of the chemigation system will be required a minimum of once every three years.
005.02 If the system was not inspected the year it was due for re-inspection, the permit will be suspended. A renewal application for a suspended permit will not be approved until the system has been inspected and all requirements are met.
005.03 The District will make area wide selective and periodic inspections of non-permitted irrigation systems. The District will also investigate complaints concerning non-permitted systems. In cases of non-cooperation by an irrigator, the District may apply to the District or County Court of the county in which the irrigation system is located for an inspection warrant to allow the employee entry onto his/her property to carry out duties under the Nebraska Chemigation Act.
006. In case of permit holders/applicators who chemigate in the areas along District boundaries or who chemigate in two or more District, it may be convenient for the Central Platte Natural Resources District to allow neighboring District Staff to cross over the boundary and inspect systems within the Central Platte Natural Resources District. In such cases, the Central Platte Natural Resources District may consider system inspection by staff of neighboring District as meeting the requirement of the rules and regulations of the Central Platte Natural Resources District provided a reciprocity agreement has been made with the neighboring District concerned. Central Platte Natural Resources District may likewise perform inspections outside the District.
007. If District Staff is required to make a second trip to complete a chemigation inspection, a $50.00 fee can be charged to the permit holder/applicator. If a third trip is required the fee would increase to $100.00.
Following are some frequently asked questions and the Department’s responses. Additional information about the chemigation program and the regulations can be found on the NDEQ website or you may contact the NDEQ by mail (NDEQ, Agriculture Section, P.O. Box 98922, Lincoln, NE 68509-8922), by telephone (1-877-253-2603). If you need certification as a chemigation applicator, please contact your county’s UNL Cooperative Extension Office.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is chemigation? A: Chemigation is defined in the Chemigation Act as “any process whereby chemicals are applied to land or crops in or with water through an on-farm irrigation distribution system” (Title 195, Ch. 1, 003). The regulations apply whether the water is from a surface water source, such as a stream or canal, or groundwater from an irrigation well.
Q: What does the term “chemical” mean or include with regards to chemigation? A. “Chemical” is any fertilizer or pesticide mixed with the water supply (Title 195, Ch. 1, 002). Note that insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides are all different forms of pesticide. The term fertilizer is limited to formulations or products used and formally recognized as plant nutrients. So, for the purposes of the Chemigation Act, livestock manure or waste products are not considered fertilizer. However, similar safety equipment is required for irrigation systems applying livestock wastes, as specified in Title 130 “Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Livestock Waste Control,” which is a separate permit program for livestock operations that is administered by the NDEQ.
Q: Where can I find pesticide label information to determine whether or not a pesticide can be applied through a chemigation system? A: The manufacturer or seller of the pesticide should be able to provide you with a label for any pesticide you purchased. You can also go to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s pesticide database at http://www.nda.nebraska.gov or call 1-402-471-2394 for additional information.
Q: I have one well and two center pivots. Do I need one permit or two? A: Title 195, Ch. 2, 002, specifies, “An application must be filed with the district for each injection location.” If you plan to inject chemicals for chemigation into the irrigation distribution pipeline at one location, say near the well, only one application is required. However, if you inject at each center pivot, an application must be filed for each injection location.
Q: Is a surfactant, spray adjuvant, or crop oil covered by the chemigation rules? A: Generally not. These products alone do not typically meet the definition of a pesticide or fertilizer, so the use of these materials is, by definition, not considered chemigation. However, the Department encourages the use of safety equipment on an irrigation system when any material is injected into it or mixed with the irrigation water.
Q: I operate a commercial tree or garden nursery and plan to apply chemicals through an irrigation system to the plants at the nursery. Do I need a chemigation permit? A: Yes. Chemigation at a nursery would be considered an “on farm”activity subject to the regulations.
Q: I have a commercial pesticide applicator’s license. Do I still need the chemigation applicator certification if I plan to operate the chemigation system? A: Yes. The pesticide applicator’s license or card is completely separate from the chemigation applicator certification. One does not substitute for the other. The Nebraska Chemigation Act and the Title 195 regulations require that anyone operating a chemigation system must be certified as a chemigation applicator (Title 195, Ch. 1,001 and Chapter 13). In addition, any permit application must include the name of a certified chemigation applicator (Title 195, Ch. 2, 002).
Q: How do I get certified as a chemigation applicator? A. You must attend a training session and pass a written test. To pass the test you must correctly answer at least 35 out of the 50 questions. UNL Cooperative Extension conducts the training and testing, so you should first contact your local County Extension Office for information about the nearest training and testing session and to obtain an application form and study materials.
Q: How do I find out about the applicator certification training and testing sessions? A: A schedule of the applicator training and testing sessions is available on the UNL Northeast Extension Center’s website (go to http://nerec.unl.edu/calendar.htm then click on “Chemigation Training”) or the NDEQ website. You might also contact your local county extension office as training and testing sessions are occasionally scheduled locally or on short notice and may not be included on either website listing.
Q: How long does it take before I get a notification if I passed the test or not? A. Please allow six to eight weeks for processing and receipt of the chemigation application certification card in the mail from the NDEQ. If you did not pass the test, Cooperative Extension will notify you.
Q: I lost my chemigation applicator certification card. What should I do? A. For a replacement card, please contact the Agriculture Section at NDEQ at (402) 471-4239. Be sure to provide your full name and current address. Please note that you do not need to carry the chemigation applicator certification card as it simply helps to serve as a reminder. The list of certified chemigation applicators also is available on the NDEQ website along with the expiration date of their certification.
Q: It’s been two months since the training session and I haven’t received any notice. What should I do? A. Please contact NDEQ’s Agriculture Section by mail, by telephone at (877) 253-2603. Be ready to provide your name, address, and the date and location where you took the training and testing. If you have website access, you can also check the chemigation applicator list on the NDEQ website to see if you are on the list. If your certification is current on the website list and you just haven’t received your card please let us know and a replacement card will be sent.
Q: When does my chemigation applicator certification expire? A. All chemigation applicator certifications expire on January 1 of the fourth year following the year issued (Neb. Rev. Stat. §46-1128). So, a chemigation applicator certification issued in March of 2007 will expire on January 1, 2011. This information may also be found on the NDEQ website.
Q: My chemigation applicator certification expires January 1 of next year. When do I need to recertify and what do I need to do? A: You do not have to recertify before the certification expires. However, a current applicator certification is needed for any chemigation permit application. Applicators sometimes wait until after their certification has expired and then attend a training session early that same year. The Chemigation Act requires training and testing for initial or subsequent certification. Please be aware that there are a limited number of training and testing dates and locations and that most of the training sessions are held from January thru April, so don’t wait too long to attend a training and testing session.
Q: Do I need to carry the chemigation applicator certification card? A. No. The card simply serves as your reminder of your certification number and when your certification expires. The card is not required for anything else and when the NRD is checking the applicator information on your permit application they may simply check the NDEQ website listing. You can also check this information on the NDEQ website.
Q: What if I fail the test?
A: Anyone that fails the test is normally notified by mail by the UNL Cooperative Extension and given information on the retest procedure, which can be done in the local Extension office. You may wish to attend another training session, but it is not required.
Q: My center pivot passes over a stream in part of its circle. Do I need to shut off the chemigation system while the irrigation system is sprinkling on this area?
A: Yes. The Nebraska Environmental Protection Act makes it unlawful to cause pollution or place potential pollutants (i.e. fertilizers or pesticides)where they are likely to cause pollution (Neb. Rev. Stat. §81-1506). In addition, most pesticide labels prohibit application near or on surface water or wells. Contact the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Program at (402) 471-2394 if you have questions about pesticide label and pesticide application restrictions.
Q: My water supply is an irrigation supply canal. Do I need safety equipment and a chemigation permit?
A: Probably. Irrigation canals are, by definition, waters of the state so anyone connecting to an irrigation canal to supply a chemigation system is subject to the Chemigation Act. However, there is an exemption for limited situations involving open discharge systems (Title 195, Ch. 1, 001).
Q: Where can I find irrigation pipeline check valve models that have been certified or approved for use in chemigation systems in Nebraska?
A: A list of certified irrigation pipeline check valves can be requested from the NDEQ’s Agriculture Section or you can go to the NDEQ website.
Q: What is an “open discharge system”?
A: An open discharge system is defined as “a system in which water is pumped or diverted directly into a ditch or canal in such a manner that the force of gravity at the point of discharge into the ditch or canal cannot cause water to flow back to the point from which the water is pumped or diverted” (Title 195, Ch. 1, 011). So, a closed pipe system would not be considered “open discharge”. Please note that there may also be other considerations related to potential groundwater pollution in high water table areas. If you have a question about this, please contact the NRD and NDEQ to discuss whether or not your system would be considered an open discharge system before you attempt to use it for chemigation. Appropriate safety equipment is still recommended for open discharge systems and may still be required by the pesticide label.
Q: When is posting required and what do I need to post? A: Posting of a field is required when a restricted use pesticide or a chemical for which the label requires posting is used (Title 195, Chapter 12).
Q: I didn’t get my application in by June 1 to renew the chemigation permit for my irrigation system. What do I do? A: If you still wish to chemigate, you must first submit your permit application to the NRD and include the initial application fee. Since you missed the June 1 deadline, the NRD must handle your application as an initial or new one. The NRD is also required to inspect and approve the safety equipment before a permit can be issued (Title 195, Ch. 4, Sect. 003).
Q: Are chemigation permits transferable? A: No. A permit for one injection location cannot be transferred or issued for another location (Title 195, Ch. 4, Sect. 004). A new permit would be needed.
Q: What is a Special Permit? A: The regulations provide for a “Special Permit” where the NRD determines by inspection that a chemigation system does not need all of the safety equipment specified in the regulations and the NDEQ concurs (Title 195, Ch. 5). Only a few special permits have been issued. Please contact your local NRD or the NDEQ if you would like further information on Special Permits or have a specific situation you would like to discuss.
Q: I am considering applying fertilizer to my grass through my lawn sprinkler system. Is a chemigation permit needed? A: No. Chemigation is defined as “any process whereby chemicals are applied to land or crops in or with water through an onfarm irrigation distribution system.” Application of chemicals to a residential lawn would not be “onfarm”. However, there are specific rules on backflow prevention for connections to a public drinking water supply system. So, if the lawn sprinkler system is connected to a public water supply system, please check with the water supplier or the Regulation & Licensure Division of the Nebraska Health and Human Services System- NHHS website. Contact the Health & Human Service at 402-471-0598 for more information. Even if a chemigation permit is not required and the lawn sprinkler system is on an individual well, we recommend that appropriate safety equipment is installed.
Q: Are there any requirements on chemical containers used during chemigation? A: Yes, there may be requirements if the container capacity or use meets certain requirements spelled out in the Title 198 “Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Agricultural Chemical Containment.” For instance, if the pesticide or fertilizer container has a capacity of 500 gallons or more, requirements may exist for secondary containment (i.e. diking) as specified in the Title 198 regulations, even if the container is mobile or mounted on a trailer. Fertilizer containers up to 2,000 gallons in capacity have a seasonal exemption in most cases. However, please contact the NDEQ Agriculture Section at (402) 471-4239 with any questions, or go to the NDEQ website and click on the “NDEQ Programs” tab, then “Agriculture Programs,” “Agricultural Chemical Secondary Containment” for more information.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ)supplies the Chemigation Applicator Certification forms to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Cooperative Extension Service (UNL). The forms are sequentially numbered to help UNL and NDEQ track and match the application with the test forms. Forms normally are available at any County Extension office and at the scheduled training sessions. UNL conducts the training and charges a fee to partially cover the cost of materials, training, and testing. UNL then forwards the test results to NDEQ.
Certification applicants are required to both attend the training and pass the test. Applicants must correctly answer at least 35 of the 50 questions on the test. Applicants that fail the test are notified by mail and have the option to retake the test without attending another training session. A chemigation applicator certification card is issued to successful applicants. The certification expires on January 1 of the fourth year following the date of issuance. The sequence number on the application form is generally used for the certification number for new applicants. Those renewing their certification should indicate their current certification number in the appropriate space on the form so that a new number will not be assigned. This helps reduce changes in the permit applications for permit renewals.
A list of Nebraska certified applicators can be found on the NDEQ web site, by selecting the “NDEQ Programs” option on the home page, then clicking on “Agriculture Program, then on “Chemigation Program.”
For Chemigation Applicator Certification applications – both new and renewal applications – contact the Extension Office for your county or contact UNL at 402-370-4000.