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 places 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 Environment & Energy (NDEE, formerly DEQ). The mainline to NDEE is (402) 473-2186.
Producers who would like to get a certified applicator’s license may contact UNL at (402) 472-1632. The NRDs inspect the required chemigation safety equipment on chemigation systems, receive permit applications and fees, and issue chemigation site permits.
As required by Title 195, Chapter 3, the District shall review applications, conduct inspects, and approve or deny permits. No permit may be approved without payment of the required permit fee, which shall reflect the cost of administration and inspections.
The annual renewal fee is $20.00 and is to be paid to CPNRD ($2.00 is paid to NDEE).
An original application fee is $60.00 for each new permit paid to CPNRD, ($5.00 is paid to NDEE) for new irrigation systems. Applications received after June 1st must comply with new permits requirements, including inspection before the permit is issued.
A special permit application fee of $60.00 paid to CPNRD ($5.00 shall be paid to NDEE) for systems where the NRD determines by inspection that a chemigation system does not need all of the safety equipment specified in the regulations and the NDEE concurs.
An emergency permit application fee is $500.00 to be paid to CPNRD ($10.00 is paid to NDEE) for when chemigation is necessary on short notice.
The law requires a person directly involved in calibrating and monitoring a chemigation system to be certified by the Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy. 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 NDEE has subcontracted with UNL Extension to provide the training, proctor the exam, and deliver the results of the exam. NDEE also issues the chemigation applicator certifications to persons who pass the written test.
Chemigation 2021 training season is beginning in January. Chemigation online training and testing is available for both Initial and Recertifying Chemigation licensing. Due to the pandemic and limited class capacities, in-person training dates will not be posted online. If you prefer to do an in-person training rather than online training, you will need to contact your local County Extension office to see if there is a pre-registration and if they can accommodate you for in-person training. Chemigation applicators may want to wait until after January 1st to do the training and testing. If you complete training in December 2020, the license would be good for 3 full years, where as if you wait until 1/1/2021, your Chemigation License will be good for 4 full years. Once the final Chemigation exam is completed, an email will be sent to Julie Jacobs at UNL and the Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy (NDEE). NDEE will then issue the Chemigation license by mail. For further questions contact: Julie Jacobs (402) 472-9543. Visit the NDEE 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 Tricia Dudley at (308) 385-6282.
If you are the person who actually applies chemicals through an irrigation system, you MUST be certified by attending a course offered by UNL Ext and passing a written exam. Although in-person training sessions were canceled this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the online training program covers the information presented at the in-person training events and uses the same test. It consists of a series of modules that contain text, video clips, and calculators to provide chemigators with the necessary information to employ chemigation in an effective, efficient and environmentally safe manner while safeguarding farm workers involved in chemigation. Online training is available here.
Contact Tricia if you have questions regarding your chemigation permit.
CPNRD first sends a written notice to violators to allow the person who will be chemigating to get into compliance. If no compliance is achieved, CPNRD notifies the Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy (NDEE) 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
Central Platte NRD adopted the NDEE’s amended Title 195 – Rules & Regulations Pertaining to Chemigation in March 1987; June 1991; March 2009; and December 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.
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 the removal and/or reattachment of the vacuum relief valve or injection line check valve, if so requested by the permit holder/applicator, CPNRD will not be responsible for damage done to those valves during the removal and/or reattachment process, or for any valve defect. CPNRD 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 3 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. For permit holders/applicators who chemigate in the areas along District boundaries or who chemigate in two or more Districts, it may be convenient for the CPNRD to allow neighboring NRD staff to cross over the boundary and inspect systems within the CPNRD. In such cases, CPNRD may consider system inspection by staff of neighboring District as meeting the requirement of the rules and regulations provided a reciprocity agreement has been made with the neighboring District concerned. CPNRD staff 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 may be charged to the permit holder/applicator. If a third trip is required the fee would increase to $100.00.
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.
“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 NDEE.
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 website or call 1-402-471-2394 for additional information.
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.
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.
Yes. Chemigation at a nursery would be considered an “on farm”activity subject to the regulations.
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).
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.
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 NDEE 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.
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.
For a replacement card, please contact the Agriculture Section at NDEE 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.
Please contact NDEE’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 NDEE 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.
All chemigation applicator certifications expire on January 1 of the fourth year following the year issued (Neb. Rev. Stat. §46-1128). A chemigation applicator certification card will be issued to successful applicants by the NDEE. The certification expires on January 1, 4 years after it is issued. For example, certifications issued in 2016 will expire on January 1, 2020. This information may also be found on the NDEE website.
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.
No. The card simply serves as a 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 NDEE website.
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.
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.
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).
A list of certified irrigation pipeline check valves can be requested from the NDEQ’s Agriculture Section or you can go to the NDEE website.
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 NDEE 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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
No. Chemigation is defined as “any process whereby chemicals are applied to land or crops in or with water through an on-farm irrigation distribution system.” Application of chemicals to a residential lawn would not be “on-farm”. 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.
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.