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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Badger Lake property owner fined $8,100 for illegal herbicide use

A neighbor’s quick action helped state officials nab a Badger Lake property owner for illegal application of aquatic herbicides at the lake south of Cheney.

The neighbor noticed a strong chemical smell coming from Bruce Schwan’s dock area on the morning of April 7 and saw an empty, 10-pound box of Aquacide in Schwan’s trash can, which had been set out for garbage pickup.

The neighbor notified state officials, which resulted in a same-day investigation by the Washington Department of Agriculture. Undissolved pellets of the herbicide were found near Schwan’s dock, officials said.

Schwan recently paid an $8,100 fine over the incident, according to the state Department of Ecology, which levied the penalty.

“It would have cost him about $1,100 to do this correctly,” said Mike Hepp, a compliance specialist for the department’s water quality unit.

Property owners can apply for a permit to have a licensed applicator apply aquatic herbicides. Following the proper process ensures that the herbicide is applied in a safe and effective manner, Hepp said.

Aquacide targets broad-leaf aquatic plants, and the herbicide should have been applied during the growing season, he said.

Through the permitting process, other Badger Lake property owners who draw drinking water from the lake would have been notified. The permit also restricts herbicide application before June 1 to protect spawning fish.

A phone message left at Schwan’s Kennewick residence Thursday was not returned. But in a July 2011 interview, he told The Spokesman-Review that the weeds tangled around his boat motor when he approached the dock and the thick vegetation made swimming unpleasant.

Schwan, who has owned a place at Badger Lake since 1995, was quoted in a story about controversy surrounding the proposed use of herbicides at the 224-acre lake, which was historically known for its trout fishing.

Schwan applied for a herbicide permit to control the weeds in 2011, but several neighbors appealed, according to Hepp. The licensed applicator who was going to apply the herbicide withdrew the permit.

Department officials levied the fine because Schwan knew a permit was required, but flouted the rules.

“By getting an immediate call from a neighbor, we were able to document what was happening,” Hepp said.

The Aquacide, which was purchased by mail, had Schwan’s name and address on the package.

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