At times, you may be asked questions by the public regarding use of herbicides at utility sites and along rights of way.
Answering Questions on Herbicide Use and the Environment
Utilities have an important role in the community, ensuring a continuous and secure power supply. Managing problem vegetation can help reduce power outages, thereby eliminating disruption of customers’ lives. Unfortunately, those affected by the power outage do not always understand the threat posed by uncontrolled vegetation.
Massive blackouts on the East Coast in 2003 vividly demonstrated what can happen when vegetation interferes with power lines. That sequence of events led the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to enforce stricter clearance guidelines with hefty fines — up to $1 million per day — for vegetation-induced outages. As a result, many utility companies are responding to increased regulations with integrated vegetation management (IVM) programs.
At times, you may be asked questions by the public regarding use of herbicides at utility sites and along rights of way. The following answers may help you address those questions.
Q: What is an Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) program?
A: IVM compiles the most appropriate vegetation control techniques for electric rights of way projects, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) which is the organization designated by FERC to develop transmission reliability standards. NERC guidelines give land managers flexibility to implement a customized plan that includes the right mix of biological, chemical, mechanical and cultural methods to meet the brush-control needs of each site.
A long-range IVM program considers not only the best approach for this season, but also what will fulfill the site’s objectives for years to come. A well-designed IVM plan saves labor and reduces operating costs over the long term, and promotes a stable low-growing wildlife habitat. Since vegetation management often represents a utility company’s largest operations and maintenance cost, it makes sense to incorporate practices that promote self-sustaining habitats for less mowing and trimming and fewer herbicide treatments.
Q: How are weeds and brush a problem?
A: Tall weeds and brush along rights of way can interfere with utility lines, resulting in outages. In addition to helping prevent outages, managing weed problems reduces the spread of noxious weeds to fields and gardens, helps maintain visibility to improve highway safety and helps lower pollen counts that promote allergies. Weed and brush control reduces the potential for wildfires and improves the success of reforestation efforts. Eliminating unsightly weeds improves the beauty of an area and the value of property.
Q: What is the role of herbicides?
A: Utilities rely on herbicides and mechanical methods to control problem weeds and brush. Herbicides such as DuPont™ Viewpoint® and Streamline® play an effective role in managing weed problems. These products offer an alternative to removing weeds and brush with mowers, tillers, graders and chain saws. These mechanical tools also play a role in effective weed control, but they often cost more and may expose workers to serious injury. Mechanical weed removal also can increase erosion, disrupt wildlife and scar the natural beauty of an area. Yet some weed problems can only be managed with a combined effort of mechanical removal and carefully prescribed herbicide use.
Q: What should we know about the regulatory approval process for herbicides?
A: Herbicides are rigorously tested using research required by U.S. EPA to show the toxicological and environmental profiles of the products. The tests are reviewed by EPA and state regulatory authorities before use is allowed. EPA and states only allow registration and use of a product when the risk to man or the environment meets the standard required by federal and state laws.
For information on DuPont herbicides that help enhance public safety through effective, reliable brush and bareground control, visit landmanagement.dupont.com.
DuPont™ Streamline® and Viewpoint® herbicides are not registered for sale or use in all states. See your local DuPont retailer or representative for details and availability in your state.
Always read and follow all label directions and precautions for use.
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