Wednesday Webcasts Detail New CAFO Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule helping to protect the nation's water quality by requiring concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to safely manage manure. A national Webcast and a regional Webcast to provide detailed information about the new rule are scheduled for Nov. 19.

Region 7 Administrator John B. Askew said, "This CAFO rule strengthens environmental safeguards by allowing the public to comment on CAFOs land-application requirements and provides that approved requirements become enforceable terms of a facility's permit. The rule also creates a no-discharge certification based on stringent design and management requirements. The changes will better protect water quality while also clarifying the requirements that CAFOs must meet."

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.

The rule adds new requirements relating to nutrient management plans for permitted CAFOs. The rule also includes a no-discharge certification for CAFOs that can establish that they will not discharge. Additionally, the rule revises the requirement for all CAFOs to apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits and instead requires only those CAFOs that discharge, or propose to discharge, to apply for permits.

A nutrient management plan (NMP) for manure is now required to be submitted as part of a CAFO's Clean Water Act permit application. Manure contains the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus, which if 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 this new regulation requires 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 becoming final.

The revised rule also provides an opportunity for CAFO operators who do not discharge or propose to discharge to obtain a zero-discharge certification. This certification requires that the CAFO

(1) be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained so as not to discharge;

(2) develop and implement a nutrient management plan that governs the land application of manure; and

(3) maintain documentation necessary to demonstrate that the CAFO does not discharge. Specifically, the CAFO must evaluate the adequacy of its storage using 100 years of precipitation and other weather data. If the CAFO would have discharged, it is not eligible for the no-discharge certification.

The regulation clarifies that an owner or operator of a CAFO that actually discharges or proposes to discharge to streams, lakes, and other waters must apply for a permit under the Clean Water Act.

The regulation does not modify the Feb. 27, 2009, deadline for permitted CAFOs to implement nutrient management plans for their land application of manure.

EPA estimates CAFO regulations will prevent 56 million pounds of phosphorus, 110 million pounds of nitrogen, and 2 billion pounds of sediment from entering streams, lakes, and other waters annually.

The EPA headquarters Webcast will begin at 11 a.m. CST on Nov. 19. Participants must register on-line. EPA Region 7’s Webcast will begin immediately after the headquarters Webcast. Log on at the Region 7 webcast portal. No registration is required. Participants will be able to e-mail questions to As many questions as possible will be addressed. Questions not addressed during the live Webcast will be responded to later. The Region 7 Webcast will be archived and available for viewing on Nov. 20 at the Region 7 webcast portal.

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