Department of Ecology News Release - August 11, 2015

Details shared about preliminary concentrated animal feeding operations permit
Permit protects surface and groundwater from manure contamination

OLYMPIA – After months of meetings with industry and interest groups, preliminary details are being released today about updates to the state’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) Permit.

The aim of the state-led Clean Water Act permit is to protect surface and groundwater from being polluted by manure coming from facilities that confine and feed large numbers of animals, like cattle, pigs and chickens.  

Generally, a CAFO is a facility that confines animals for 45 days or more during any 12-month period in an area that does not contain forage or crops and has or had a manure discharge.

Bacteria, pathogens and nitrogen from manure can harm the health of fish-bearing waters and shellfish beds, as well as groundwater, which is a source of drinking water for many communities.

“The changes we are proposing move us toward greater protections to our surface waters and groundwater,” said Heather Bartlett, manager of Ecology’s Water Quality Program. “This preliminary step affords everybody with an extra opportunity to learn about the changes we are considering before we get into the more formal public review process. We’re collecting feedback and asking for help to fill in some gaps.”

The permit, which is up for renewal every five years, expired in 2011. Ecology seeks to renew the permit to allow additional facilities to have permit coverage. Facilities with documented manure discharges must be covered by the permit. Having permit coverage provides legal protections to concentrated animal operators.

The proposed permit changes include:

Ecology will continue to meet with industries, agencies, interest groups and tribes to discuss the preliminary permit. The agency expects to issue a formal draft permit later this year.

Visit Ecology’s website to read the preliminary draft permit and learn how to submit comments, which are being accepted through Sept. 18, 2015.

Contact:

Sandy Howard, communications, sandy.howard@ecy.wa.gov, 360-791-3177, @ecologyWA