Department of Ecology News Release - April 13, 2015

Public invited to discuss water quality permit for concentrated animal feeding operations

OLYMPIA – Public listening sessions are scheduled for later this month in Zillah and Bellingham as the state begins work to update the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation General Permit.

The permit issued by the Washington Department of Ecology protects public waters by focusing on how animal manure is managed at facilities that confine large numbers of livestock, poultry, or other animals.

Nutrients, bacteria and pathogens in the manure can harm the health of fish-bearing waters, shellfish beds, and the groundwater we drink.

Washington’s current general permit expired in 2011, so an updated permit is needed to cover new or additional facilities. Ten facilities in Washington are currently covered by the permit and maintain their permit status even though the permit is expired.

“Clean water and a healthy agricultural industry are both important to Washington,” said Heather Bartlett, manager of Ecology’s Water Quality Program. “Updating this permit will support our interest in having both.”

The public listening sessions follow months of meetings Ecology has held with agencies, tribes, environmental groups, the industry and others to gather input to update the permit. Ecology has not made any decisions about the permit updates.

Ecology expects to have a preliminary draft permit available for public review this summer.

At the listening sessions, Ecology will present information about the permit update process, schedule and issues, but will primarily be focused on listening to comments, concerns and questions.

Listening sessions

Visit Ecology’s website for more information or sign up to its email listserv to receive updates about this activity and future public meetings

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Contacts:

Sandy Howard, communications, 360-407-6408, @ecologyWA