Ocean Shores declares 180-day moratorium on city spraying herbicides containing glyphosate

  • Thu Sep 26th, 2019 11:00am
  • News

By Scott D. Johnston

For The Grays Harbor Newspaper Group

By unanimous vote at its Monday night meeting, the Ocean Shores City Council enacted a 180-day moratorium “on the spraying of herbicides containing glyphosate by the City of Ocean Shores, including but not limited to city contractors, in the performance of landscaping and maintenance work on all city-owned roads and properties.”

Ocean Shores becomes the first government body to restrict such products in Grays Harbor County. The ordinance applies only to spraying conducted by the city and its contractors, and does not restrict uses by private citizens of products such as Roundup, the popular herbicide that contains glyphosate.

The Ocean Shores ordinance states that the city and council “seek to use best management landscaping practices, reducing the risk to human health and the environment by minimizing the use of pesticides and emphasizing proven, effective, least-toxic and non-toxic approaches and products;” and the city “requires time to review, research and analyze proposed alternative courses of action to maintain roads and mitigate the hazards of roadside vegetation should a moratorium on the spraying of glyphosate become permanent…”

Nick Bird, the city’s Public Works Director, told The North Coast News that he and City Engineer Robert Lund have “spent close to 500 hours on this already,” and will continue their research into alternatives and bring information back to the council early next spring, in time to be part of the city’s vegetation management efforts next year.

Bird explained that the city uses both pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides, with glyphosate being an ingredient only in the post-emergent product. “There are a number of alternatives, but we know they’re not as good. What we want to know is how they function in our environment. So, we’ll be looking on some of the options we can work with” for a post-emergent, he said.

The annual roadside spraying is for control of weeds that send roots under the edges of asphalt pavement, thus helping break it apart. It is a long-established program that suddenly became controversial this spring in the wake of national news stories of jury awards connecting the widely used herbicide ingredient glyphosate with cancer.

Earlier this year, Kitsap County enacted a county resolution that prevents staff from spraying glyphosate herbicides on all county-owned and maintained property and rights of way, although it allows use for targeted removal of noxious weeds or as a “tool of last resort.”