Creating an Atrazine Prohibition Area
There are seven steps in the creation of an atrazine prohibition area in Wisconsin.
1. Well Tests and Health-Based Standard for Atrazine
The health-based standard or enforcement standard for atrazine in Wisconsin's groundwater is 3 parts per billion (ppb). In Wisconsin, we also consider the presence of the three breakdown products of atrazine or its metabolites. The three metabolites of atrazine are de-ethyl atrazine, deisopropyl atrazine and diamino atrazine. By adding the amount of breakdown products plus the amount of parent compound found in a water sample, we determine the total chlorinated residues of atrazine.
If test results from drinking water wells in an area show the total of atrazine plus its breakdown products at levels above 3 ppb, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection conducts a follow-up environmental investigation.
2. Environmental Investigation
Additional well water is sampled and tested and an environmental investigator from the department looks at farming practices in the area, soil types and groundwater flow. If the investigation determines that continued use of atrazine on area fields will likely contribute to additional groundwater contamination, the department will propose either a new atrazine prohibition area or the expansion of an existing area. These changes are made to our administrative rule, ATCP 30 - Pesticide Product Restrictions.
3. Draft Rule Proposal
Our rule change proposal to add a new prohibition area or to expand an existing area is presented to our Board of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, a citizen advisory group that creates or amends rules for our agency. The Board reviews our rule proposal and may make changes or recommendations. The Board then grants permission to take the rule proposal to public hearing(s).
4. Public Hearings
Changes in atrazine prohibition areas are usually proposed in August or September for the next year's growing season. Public hearings are held so farmers, pesticide applicators and people living in and around a proposed prohibition area can ask questions and comment on the proposal.
The hearings are advertised through press releases, radio tapes, mailings to pesticide dealers and mailings to people living in and around a proposed prohibition area.
For those who are unable to attend a public hearing, written comments are also accepted for a short time following the public hearings.
5. Final Rule Proposal
The Board of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reviews the comments received during the hearings along with written comments received. The Board also reviews the staff recommendation and has the option to approve, modify or reject our proposal.
6. Legislative Review
Following the final approval by the Board, the rule is sent to Wisconsin legislature. The rule change is assigned to one of the legislative committees (usually dealing with agriculture). The committee then reviews our final recommendation and has the option to hold a public hearing.
7. Rule Publication
Following the legislative review, the recommendations on a new or expanded prohibition area are published and officially go into effect on or about April 1. However, there have been some instances when legislative delays or questions by the Board have delayed the rule taking effect until May.