EPA Releases New Wastewater Requirements for Large Animal Feeding Operations
Rule will require concentrated animal feeding operations to safely manage manure
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a rule helping to protect the nation’s water quality by requiring concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to safely manage manure. EPA estimates CAFO regulations will prevent 56 million lb of phosphorus, 110 million lb of nitrogen and 2 billion lb of sediment from entering streams, lakes and other waters annually.
“EPA’s new regulation of animal feedlots sets a strong national standard for pollution prevention and environmental protection, while maintaining our country’s economic and agricultural competitiveness,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. “This clean water rule strengthens environmental safeguards by embracing a zero discharge standard and requiring site-specific management plans to prevent runoff of excess nutrients into our nation’s waters.”
This is the first time 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 an 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.
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 Feb. 27, 2009.
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 CAFO rule is available at www.epa.gov/npdes/caforule.