After concerns were expressed by a member of the town’s Planning Board, the New Hampshire State Department of Agriculture’s Division of Pesticide Control is reviewing procedures used at the Dublin Lake Club to ensure that requirements for setback distances are being met.
Questions about the use of chemical pesticides near wetlands on the property of the Dublin Lake Club in Dublin, N.H. have led officials from the State Department of Agriculture’s Division of Pesticide Control to conduct an investigation that will review procedures at the club and ensure that state requirements for pesticide setback distances are being met, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript of Peterborough, N.H. reported.
Robert Rousseau, Director of the Division of Pesticide Control, said in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript on June 11 that his office had received a call from a member of the Dublin Planning Board who was concerned about the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides near the water.
Rousseau stated in the interview that he was not currently aware of any violations by the golf club, but that the department was planning to investigate the report and address any issues that might be found.
Steve Baldwin, the Planning Board member who made the call, told the Ledger-Transcript in an interview on June 10 that he had brought the concern to the Department of Agriculture as well as to the Dublin Select Board in May, but wasn’t aware of any actions taken by the Board.
“I am complaining as a citizen, not as a member of the Planning Board, because I believe in the Planning Board working as a team,” Baldwin said. “I really hope the selectmen take the issue seriously.”
Bruce Simpson, the Planning Board’s Chairman, told the Ledger-Transcript that the Board recently sent a letter to the Select Board asking them to review the case. “We sent a letter to the selectmen reporting this issue, because the Planning Board has no enforcement power,” Simpson explained.
During a Planning Board meeting held June 5 in Dublin, Baldwin handed out documents showing the chemicals, and amounts, that the golf club had used in 2013, the Ledger-Transcript reported. The information has been obtained from forms that anyone using pesticides is required to submit to the state on yearly basis.
The report, signed by Dublin Lake Club’s Superintendent, Milton Brown Jr., detailed nine chemical pesticides being used on the greens, the Ledger-Transcript reported.
The state’s information form, however, doesn’t specify exactly where the chemicals were being applied on the club’s property, the Ledger-Transcript noted, and for Baldwin, the lack of that information was concerning.
State regulations establish that pesticides can’t be applied closer than 400 feet from public wells and 25 feet of non-public waters, the Ledger-Transcript reported
“When they saw this information, someone in the [Planning] Board meeting said, ‘How can I know that they are not putting these chemicals in and contaminating the water,’” Baldwin told the Ledger-Transcript. The brook that flows into the golf club’s property comes off a nearby mountain and is also fed by a tributary of Dublin Lake to the Howe Reservoir, the Ledger-Transcript reported.
Using chemical fertilizers near the wetlands area violates the Wetland Overlay Ordinance intended to promote public health safety and general welfare, and to protect wetlands around Dublin, Baldwin told the Ledger-Transcript.
The Division of Pesticides’ review will be conducted within the next couple of weeks, Rousseau told the Ledger-Transcript, and the results will then be presented informally to the town of Dublin. “It was a very informal request, so we will probably present the findings by calling them back,” Rousseau said.
The picture would change, however, if the Division finds that the club failed to meet the requirements. “If we find out that there are issues, our response to non-compliance would depend on what are the violations,” Rousseau told the Ledger-Transcript.
As part of the process, Rousseau noted, the division will conduct a background check to verify that the person in charge of handling the chemical pesticides has a valid license, according to the state requirements. “The pesticide applicant license allows that individual to handle the pesticides,” he explained. Once applications and reports are reviewed, he added, pesticide inspectors will conduct a site visit.
“What generally happens is that we have pesticide inspectors who will go out, investigate any concerns, and take physical samples that would be later analyzed in a laboratory to figure out what has been used, or in what proximity to wetlands,” Robert Bruleigh of the Division of Pesticides’ Enforcement Program told the Ledger-Transcript.
John Morris, a member of Dublin’s Conservation Commission as well as a member of the Dublin Lake Club, said in minutes from a June 8 meeting that the Conservation Commission had reviewed the wetland ordinance last year, the Ledger-Transcript reported. And in an e-mail sent to the Planning Board on June 10, Morris wrote, “As far as I know there is no regulation on pesticides in Dublin’s zoning ordinances.”
But according to the town’s land use regulations, the Wetland Conservation District’s purpose is to protect wetlands from pesticides, the Ledger-Transcript reported.
Attempts to contact Morris and Brown for comments prior to presstime were unsuccessful, the Ledger-Transcript reported.