Frequently Asked Questions
City of Cupertino Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program
Who regulates the pesticides that are sprayed by the City? Is the amount sprayed tracked and reported?
All of the City’s applications of any pesticide are regulated by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and the Water Quality Control Board in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act and the San Francisco Bay Regional Municipal Stormwater National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permit. Both regulatory bodies require municipalities to track all pesticide use and provide annual reports to detail pest control activities.
What kind of training do City staff attend prior to applying a pesticide?
The City’s Grounds maintenance staff receive frequent application and safety training throughout the year. Because of the importance of applying pesticides properly, nearly all grounds maintenance staff are licensed pest control applicators by the State of California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Licensed applicators require a minimum of 20 hours every two years of ongoing education credits. Attendance at annual trainings is required of all Grounds Maintenance staff.
Why does the Water Quality Control Board regulate pesticide use?
The Municipal Regional Permit (MRP) is a mandatory permit issued by the Water Quality Control Board to 76 agencies around the SF Bay. Without the permit, municipalities would not be allowed to discharge rainwater to local creeks and the Bay, which is currently the only way to prevent streets from flooding during prolonged storms. The permit has strict requirements that all agencies work to ensure that various types of pollutants including pesticides do not get into stormwater which is funneled through the storm drain system to the waters of the state. When pesticides are over-applied to landscaping they can get washed into the system and negatively impact water quality and the entire ecosystem in our creeks and bay.
Are pesticides always used for pest management? Are there other alternatives?
The MRP requires the City to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an ecosystem-based strategy wherein pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, etc.) are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed, and treatments are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health and non-targeted organisms. By regulation the City cannot use products that are not labeled as a pesticide.
Is the City of Cupertino responsible for maintenance of the school fields as well?
As part of a joint use agreement with Cupertino Unified School District, the City maintains 9 school playing fields in Cupertino. Those schools are: Collins, Eaton, Faria, Gardengate, Hyde, Kennedy, Lincoln, Regnart, and Stevens Creek.
Can the City decide what to use on school fields for pest control?
School property is not under the City’s jurisdiction, however, per the agreement the City maintains some school fields and responds to the school’s or school district’s requests regarding weed control.
Is Roundup used on school property?
Roundup is used, but has only been applied in landscaped areas and planter beds at schools, not on school turf, lawn, or playing fields.
Are there notifications to the school when pesticides are going to be applied?
Applications of all pesticides by municipal and/or school staff are strictly regulated by state law. This requires notices be posted at least 24 hours in advance of a pesticide application, and be left visible until at least 72 hours after each pesticide application.
Are children exposed to the pesticides being applied when school is in session?
City maintenance staff only apply pesticides when school is not in session, such as during summer, winter, and spring breaks. Licensed Pest Control Advisers state that entry into an area treated with Roundup is considered safe when the product is dry.
Are there any pesticides that are not permitted to be applied on public property?
Specific pesticides, such as diazinon (ant control that is poisonous to fish, birds, and other wildlife), have not been permitted to be applied on City or school property since at least 2008.
Can a private property owner/resident apply Roundup or other pesticides?
Use of pesticides by private property owners and residents is not regulated by the DPR or the City.
Is it more effective to apply more than the required amount to kill a larger amount of weeds or pests?
Some private property owners over-apply pesticides by reason that if a little pesticide will deter or kill weeds or other pests, then maybe applying more than the required amount could be more effective. This is NOT TRUE.
Does the City educate the public on the proper use of pest controls on private property?
The City reaches out to private neighborhoods and HOAs as appropriate to explain that applications should never exceed the label directions for any pest control treatment. The public is also educated through regional outreach campaigns via radio, social media, and television.
Where can I find additional information on the least toxic pest control products and other alternatives?
The City provides several forms of educational outreach to help private property owners use the least toxic methods and products.
- The City is a member of SCVURPPP (Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program www.scvurppp.org ) which funds and operates an educational program and website on the least toxic methods of pest control, eco-friendly green gardeners, and a partnership with nurseries and gardening retailers - www.mywatershedwatch.org.
- At www.ourwaterourworld.org, employees of stores that sell pesticides are trained to help customers purchase and learn how to safely apply least toxic pest control products or preventative measures. Additionally, informational “shelf talkers” are installed in the store to indicate less-toxic products.
- The City also promotes the Green Gardener program, which is run by Valley Water and is offered to landscape professionals in both Spanish and English. www.mywatershedwatch.org/residents/green-gardener-program/
For more information on our Integrated Pest Management Program, please contact our Environmental Programs Division at (408) 777-3236 or email us at Environmental@cupertino.org.