EPA seeks comment on new permit for animal feeding operations in Idaho

Nov. 16, 2009
SEATTLE, WA, Nov. 16, 2009 -- The public is encouraged to take a close look at a new proposed Clean Water Act permit that would affect animal feeding operations in Idaho...

SEATTLE, WA, Nov. 16, 2009 -- The public is encouraged to take a close look at a new proposed Clean Water Act permit that would affect animal feeding operations in Idaho. If enacted as proposed, this permit, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will regulate discharges to surface waters from many Idaho feedlots, including those on tribal lands.

The new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Discharge Permit has the potential to affect many Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). An NPDES general permit is required by the Clean Water Act for CAFO facilities that discharge or propose to discharge manure, litter, or process waste water into streams, lakes or other surface waters.

When improperly managed, CAFOs can cause serious damage to the environment. CAFOs can be significant sources of excess nutrients, hormones and bacteria, which may impair water quality and deplete oxygen levels. These conditions can severely damage important habitat and cause fish kills.

The general permit would allow a CAFO operator to discharge to surface waters only if they are in compliance with the general permit.

Changes from the current regulations would affect:

• Production areas. These are areas where animals are confined and where animal feed and waste are contained.
• Land application areas. These are areas where manure or wastewater are spread and used as fertilizer.

Also, under the new permit, in addition to the standard notice of intent required for a permit, CAFO owners and operators must submit a nutrient management plan for review. EPA will then review the notice of intent and nutrient management plans and make them available for public comment and review before granting coverage under the permit.

CAFOs that have had permits in the past or, currently discharge or propose to discharge, will have 90 days to submit their notice of intent and nutrient management plans to obtain coverage under the new permit. The full proposed permit is available online by visiting http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/water.nsf/NPDES+Permits/Permits+Homepage.

EPA will continue its coordination with the state of Idaho, tribal and local governments, environmental groups and other interested parties to offer compliance assistance to ensure the new permit will be effective and viable.

The public comment period will run for 60 days from the Federal Register notice on the proposed permit, expected this week.

In order to provide more information and assist people in providing comments, EPA has three public meetings on the proposed permit:

December 8 in Pocatello
U.S. Fish and Game
1345 Barton Rd.
Pocatello, ID 83204

December 9 in Jerome
U.S. Fish and Game
324 S. 417 East
Jerome, ID 83338

December 10 in Nampa
Idaho Fish and Game
3101 S. Powerline Rd
Nampa, Idaho 83686

For more information about CAFOs and permitting, visit http://www.epa.gov/guide/cafo/.