Pesticides used on Golf Courses Need to be Better Tested and Controlled

By George Powell and Don Gibson

In December The Watershed Trust wrote to the Ontario Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, with respect to concerns we have with the Pesticide Act and regulation O. Reg. 63/09. We pointed out that we also have related concerns about the MOE’s current administration of the Permit To Take Water (PTTW) program.

Not only are golfers and golf club staff exposed to pesticides whose safety is questionable, but the pesticides wash into our Bay and could affect aquatic life and drinking water.

The Minister’s reply dated February 14th, 2013 failed to address our concerns and we wrote to the Minister again on April 3rd, 2013.

The recommendations made to the Minister can be summarized as follows:

  1. Include in the classification of Class 9 Pesticides (pesticides banned for cosmetic use but still allowed on golf courses) criteria requiring that all Class 9 Pesticides must be capable of being tested by an accredited laboratory or else prohibited. We could find no labs that could test for several of the commonly used pesticides such as Triticonazole and Fosetyl-al.
  2. Include in the classification of all Class 9 Pesticides, Provincial Water Quality Objectives and Ontario Drinking Water Standards so that monitoring of compliance is possible. Currently, many pesticides do not have provincial or federal water quality limits and could be a threat to human health and the environment. No one knows whether they are safe or not and at what concentration.  Quintozene, a pesticide commonly used on turf is now banned because concerns were raised and tests found it to be toxic.
  3. Amend the Pesticide Act to require that Golf clubs using Class 9 Pesticides report within five days of each Class 9 Pesticide application the relevant details of each application on a website approved by the Director that is readily accessible by interested parties and immediately report to the MOE and  on the approved website the details of each event that could result in any Class 9 Pesticide moving or spilling off  the Golf Club lands into the watershed. Currently this information can take in excess of 20 months to be reported. This is totally inadequate to properly manage pesticide impact.
  4. Have the Director responsible for administrating the PTTW program  for  golf courses, use the discretion he has in the Ontario Water Resources Act to alter the Conditions Of  The PTTW to require compliance with the  matters described in the above recommendations.