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By Susan M. Kirsch

On October 17, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a “Quick Guide for Disinfectant Products for Drinking Water Use by Public Water Systems” (Quick Guide) which it states was developed “in response to requests to help prospective pesticide registrants gain a basic understanding of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) product registration process and how it relates to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements.”  Further, “applicants seeking to register pesticide products for treatment of drinking water in public water systems [(PWS)] should refer to this [Quick Guide] for a broad overview of the applicability of FIFRA and SDWA and for references to additional relevant resources.”  EPA states the Quick Guide can be used to:

  • Compare the jurisdictional authority of FIFRA and SDWA;
  • Determine whether a product is required to obtain FIFRA registration; and
  • Identify SDWA standards that are applicable to pesticide products used in drinking water disinfection.

EPA states that “it does not register or approve disinfection products under the SDWA, but instead imposes requirements on each regulated PWS to deliver water that meets specific standards to persons served by the system,” and that each PWS “must determine what product or combination of products to use to meet the federal and any applicable state, tribal or territorial drinking water requirements.”

A review of the Quick Guide reveals it is a high level decision support and reference tool which lists the basic steps necessary to obtain product approval for drinking water disinfection use by PWSs under both FIFRA and SDWA; and includes a corresponding flow chart that highlights the intersection between the jurisdictional authorities of the two statutes and illustrates more generally the steps for obtaining product approval.  The flow chart also ties these steps to relevant EPA guidance/manuals and applicable Code of Federal Regulations citations, and provides online links to these resources.  The Quick Guide does not supply details on any applicable state, tribal, or territorial laws.  As EPA notes, some states, tribes, and territories have requirements for the regulatory approval, registration, and licensing of disinfectant products that may be used in their PWSs.  Similarly, “FIFRA registration does not mean that the product meets state, tribal or territorial laws regarding drinking water products for use by PWSs.”

More information is available on EPA’s website.