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Agency urges farmers to take steps to reduce groundwater contamination and discharge of manure to streams
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is calling on Pennsylvania farmers to comply with federal and state regulations designed to protect water quality. EPA is joining the Lancaster County Conservation District in urging farmers in the Muddy Run Watershed and throughout the county to take steps to reduce groundwater contamination and the discharge of manure to streams.
“EPA expects all farms in the Commonwealth to comply with state and federal law,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “We anticipate that the majority of farmers in Muddy Run will use this opportunity to voluntarily evaluate their operations to ensure they’re in compliance.”
The agency recently notified farmers of the applicability of the requirements, both by mail and at a public meeting convened by the Conservation District. Baseline compliance with Pennsylvania regulations requires farmers to implement a plan for controlling erosion and sedimentation, and a plan for managing manure.
Farms in the Muddy Run watershed that do not have these plans in place by Dec 3, 2010, will be given high priority for inspections by EPA and may be designated as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, subjecting them to much more stringent permitting requirements. In the meantime EPA will continue its compliance assurance activities, including inspections and enforcement, throughout the state and county.
“Some farms may already meet or exceed baseline requirements, yet lack the proper documentation,” said Don McNutt, district administrator of the Lancaster County Conservation District. “Other farms may need to implement additional best management practices to meet baseline compliance.”
Farmers can receive assistance from the Conservation District, Natural Resource Conservation Service and private consultants to develop the required plans and implement the best management practices needed to meet water quality protection goals. These practices may include cover crops, proper manure storage, stream fencing, riparian-forested buffers, gutters and restricting winter application of manure.
In a previous round of evaluations in the Watson Run watershed, EPA found that 85% of the farms were not complying with the state requirements, resulting in contamination of streams and groundwater.
Muddy Run is a tributary of the Susquehanna River and is located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This initiative is part of EPA’s multi-state, multi-media effort to implement President Barack Obama’s Executive Order for the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and a compliance and enforcement strategy to improve water quality in local waterways and the bay.