Spraying a Drainage Ditch – You Will Need a Permit for That
Effective October 31, the Illinois EPA issued the General NPDES Permit for Pesticide Point Source Discharges. The landonwer OR the entity hiring applicator (i.e. drainage district) OR Applicator must apply for a Pesticide Permit, complete necessary paperwork, and pay applicable fees. Read More
A outline of the new NPDES Pesticide Permit Program in now available on the University of Illinois Extension, Pesticide Safety Education, Website . A summary of the permit program and FAQs is available to guide applicators. Visit the Site for the latest information.
Properly Managing Ditchbanks
By Dave Haskell, InterTrade Services Corp.
As the spring rains begin to fall, it will be easy to see which ditches have not been properly maintained. Commissioners of poorly maintained ditches that have flooded may then realize the need for maintenance and will have to scramble in order to prevent future flooding. The best way to avoid this situation is to be pro-active. Controlling brush on ditch banks is a very important activity for all drainage ditches. It will improve the flow of water and appearance of the ditch bank, reduce erosion, stabilize ditch banks and will prevent or reduce flooding.
Herbicides are one of the most effective methods to control brush. When used properly, herbicides will kill the entire tree, including the root system. This will eliminate the possibility of the tree re-sprouting, which can happen if the tree is removed and a portion of the root system remains. Once the existing trees are eliminated, only periodic maintenance is needed. Mechanical brush clearing will never have to be done again and maintenance may only need to be performed every 3-4 years.
Once you have decided to proceed with using herbicides for brush control, one of the most important decisions is hiring the right applicator. First and foremost, ensure that your applicator is properly licensed. Anytime pesticides are applied during the course of employment, a license and insurance are required. Conversely, if you want to apply herbicides to property you own, there is no need for a license for general use products. For both stump and foliar treatments, a right-of-way category is necessary and an aquatic category is desirable.
Insurance is another important factor to consider when hiring a herbicide applicator. Make sure they are properly insured with a reputable company. In addition, many applicators will provide a Certificate of Insurance listing the drainage district as “Additional Insured”. This certificate provides added protection for the district in case there is a problem with the application.
Experience is the final factor that should be heavily considered. Your herbicide applicator should have a background in tree and brush/weed identification as well as chemical applications. Not all species of brush require the same treatment. Your applicator should be able to differentiate between the different species of trees and then apply the appropriate product or method of treatment. Furthermore, your applicator should have experience in vegetation maintenance. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for references regarding other drainage ditch maintenance that the applicator has completed.
Once you have decided on an applicator, there are things that drainage commissioners can do to not only increase the success of the application but reduce the cost. First, if you have an accurate map of the district that lists the various access points to the ditch, it is very helpful to the applicator. Next, this is the time of year where the right-of-way next to the ditch is most visible. If it is possible to keep the right-of-way mowed, it will be easier for the applicator to move along the ditch bank and it may even increase the applicator’s visibility so that they can see and treat new trees.