EPA finalizes CAFO rule for manure‚ wastewater

The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule requiring concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to safely manage manure and wastewater.

“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 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, according to the EPA. 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.

The rule requires that broiler farms with 125,000 or more birds on the property and that also discharge or propose to discharge to a body of water of the U.S. need apply for an NPDES permit. However, most broiler and turkey farms in the USA employ dry litter systems and do not discharge or propose to discharge to a body of water of the U.S., so they are not required to apply for an NPDES permit.

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.

For more information on the concentrated animal feeding operation rule, go to www.epa.gov/npdes/caforule.
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