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New requirements for controlling manure, wastewater from large animal operations


October 31, 2008
By U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

New requirements for controlling manure,
wastewater from large animal operations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
has finalized new
rules for concentrated animal
feeding operations (CAFOs).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized new rules for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

This is the first time the EPA has required a nutrient management plan (NMP) for manure to be submitted as part of a CAFO’s Clean Water Act permit application. Manure contains the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus, which, when not managed properly on agricultural land, can pollute nearby streams, lakes, and other waters.

Previous rules required a CAFO operator to use a NMP for controlling manure, but the regulation builds on that by requiring the NMP to be submitted with the permit application. The plan will be reviewed by the permitting authority and conditions based on it will be incorporated as enforceable terms of the permit. The proposed NMP and permit will be available for public review and comment before going final.

The regulation also requires that an owner or operator of a CAFO that actually discharges to streams, lakes, and other waters must apply for a permit under the Clean Water Act. If a farmer designs, constructs, operates and maintains their facility such that a discharge will occur, a permit is needed. The EPA is also providing an opportunity for CAFO operators who do not discharge or propose to discharge to show their commitment to pollution prevention by obtaining certification as zero dischargers.

In addition, the final rule includes technical clarifications regarding water quality-based effluent limitations and use of best management practices to meet zero discharge requirements, as well as affirming the 2003 rule requirement for reducing fecal coliform through the use of best conventional technology.

The EPA worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the development of the rule and will work closely with states during implementation. The rule deadline for newly defined facilities to apply for permits is February 27, 2009.

The EPA has been regulating CAFOs for more than 30 years. The final rule responds to a February 2005 federal court decision that upheld most of the agency’s 2003 rule, but directed further action or clarification on some portions.

Information on the concentrated animal feeding operation rule: http://www.epa.gov/npdes/caforule.


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