NACWA Supports Improved Instructions for Root Control and Swimming Pool Chemicals

(January 22, 2020) – NACWA supported improved label language for swimming pool and root control pesticides in two January 17 comment letters. 

NACWA submitted comments on EPA’s draft risk assessment for sodium bromide, a chemical used as an antimicrobial agent in swimming pools, hot tubs and spas.  Since swimming pool chemicals can potentially interfere with the biological processes used to treat wastewater if discharged into sewers, or have adverse aquatic impacts if discharged into storm drains, NACWA recommended that EPA use label language that states, “[b]efore draining a treated pool, spa, or hot tub, contact your local sanitary sewer and storm drain authorities and follow their discharge instructions.”

NACWA previously submitted similar comments on other chemicals used in swimming pools, such as lithium hypochlorite, and EPA has adopted the recommended label language.  While wastewater and stormwater utilities may have the ability to work with public and commercial swimming pool operators, it is much more difficult to regulate discharges from the millions of residential pools in the US.  This type of label language is important to help educate pool owners and operators about appropriate discharge procedures. 

NACWA also submitted comments supporting EPA’s proposed label language for metam sodium, a root control chemical.  Metam sodium can effectively control roots in wastewater collection systems, helping to prevent overflows and backups.  However, the chemical may also be a safety hazard for collection system workers.  Specifically, NACWA, along with the Bay Area Clean Water Agencies (BACWA), supports a minimum of 24 hours’ notice prior to application of metam sodium, to help clean water agencies to protect their workers by not planning work near application zones. 

NACWA has been working with BACWA to advocate for proper risk assessments and appropriate labeling of pesticides.  NACWA members with concerns or comments about pesticide impacts on wastewater or stormwater utilities should contact Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.