Department waives CAFO requirements due to flooding in northern Missouri

Following Executive Order 08-21 issued by Gov. Blunt on June 20, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is allowing Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, better known as CAFOs, in northern Missouri to discharge wastewater from their lagoons and land application process. The department is allowing such discharges to prevent lagoons from experiencing a catastrophic failure due to the record rainfall and flooding...

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, June 27, 2008 -- Following Executive Order 08-21 issued by Gov. Blunt on June 20, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is allowing Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, better known as CAFOs, in northern Missouri to discharge wastewater from their lagoons and land application process. The department is allowing such discharges to prevent lagoons from experiencing a catastrophic failure due to the record rainfall and flooding.

The department has determined that Gentry, Harrison, Daviess, Mercer, Grundy, Livingston, Carroll, Putnam, Sullivan, Linn, Chariton, Schuyler, Adair, Macon, Randolph, Knox, Shelby, Monroe, Lewis and Marion counties in Northern Missouri have exceeded the established catastrophic design storm event. Within these counties, a facility's water pollution permit allows discharges from lagoons or runoff from land application resulting from storm-related events.

Although a direct discharge may be allowed, the department strongly recommends that if a facility is faced with a lagoon that is likely to discharge, appropriate action should be taken to ensure that the integrity of the lagoon berm is protected so that complete failure does not occur. This must include land applying effluent on pasture or other vegetated ground that may be wet or saturated as opposed to allowing a lagoon to overtop.

Given the magnitude of the recent storm events and expectation of additional rain, the department has also waived the land application limits and restrictions within department CAFO permits until further notice for those counties listed above. CAFO operators are still required to keep detailed records of weather conditions, overflows and land application activities. As an alternative to the permit's land application restrictions, the department strongly recommends following the applicable portions of the department's wet weather guidance. This guidance can be found on the department's Web site at www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/cafo/index.html.

In addition, the department should be notified if lagoon discharges are imminent or occurring. By contacting the department, staff can give specific guidance for on-farm situations.

"Communication between department staff and CAFO owners and operators is absolutely critical in these situations. Although our first concern is the safety of Missouri citizens, I want Missourians to know we are well equipped and ready to assist and guide operators, which can be key to ensuring that water quality is protected," said the department's Division of Environmental Quality's deputy director Earl Pabst. "I commend all those who have worked hard and sought guidance and solutions to protect both their operations and water quality and encourage everyone to maintain vigilance during what is expected to be the highest recorded rainfall in history in some portions of Missouri."

Northern Missouri has experienced an extended period of high rainfall and wet soil conditions this spring and summer. Analysis of 2008 rainfall has indicated that, beginning in December 2007, Missouri has experienced rainfall events significantly exceeding normal rainfall. Of greater concern is the frequency of the rain events over the last 30 to 60 days, as rain events have caused saturated soil conditions throughout the normal planting season over most of the state.

For more information, contact the department's Water Protection Program at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-1300. The department has additional flooding information and guidance available on the Web at www.dnr.mo.gov/disaster.htm.

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