Palouse agriculture slice

Nonpoint Pollution from Agriculture

More Efforts to Protect Clean Water

Inter-Agency Coordination

Current Dairy and Feedlot Management in Washington

Kinsman cows feeding. Photographer unknown.

In 2003, the state enacted Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5889 which transferred all powers, duties, and functions pertaining to Chapter 90.64 RCW from Ecology to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) on July 1, 2003. Additionally, this legislation directed WSDA to develop a comprehensive livestock program for other types of livestock operations. This legislation also authorized Ecology to delegate to WSDA authority under RCW 90.48.260 to administer both the state waste discharge program and the federal National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regarding animal feeding operations (AFOs) and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The legislation acknowledged that WSDA must receive delegated authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before it can fully administer the livestock and dairy NPDES program. In 2005, Substitute Senate Bill 5602 was enacted that directed WSDA and Ecology to provide the Legislature with recommendations for statutory changes to fully implement the authorized livestock nutrient management program within WSDA.

In 2006, stakeholders decided not to not move ahead to combine or fully separate these two programs, so Ecology and Agriculture continue to coordinate this work in what some refer to as the state’s “split livestock program.” Ecology continues to be responsible to meet the Clean Water Act obligations regarding Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), and EPA has not delegated that responsibility to WSDA. Therefore, activities related to the development, issuance and enforcement of NPDES CAFO permits remains the responsibility of Ecology. Implementation of these changes requires good communication, close coordination, and cooperation between Ecology and WSDA. Ecology and WSDA signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2009 to help both agencies implement their roles and responsibilities to protect clean water from livestock activities. This MOU was improved in 2012.

Memorandum of Understanding between WSDA and Ecology (November 15, 2011)

Coordinating Assistance to Landowners

During the last 20 years, the water quality regulatory landscape has become increasingly more complex. This changing landscape has altered the nature of many roles and responsibilities both within and outside the agency. For instance, CAFO permit and TMDL implementation place Ecology in an increasingly regulatory role with a need for more concrete assurances that pollution controls will be effective and achieve the intended results of bringing landowner and waters back into compliance with state and federal regulations. As a result, there is an ongoing dialogue between Ecology, the state Conservation Commission, and Conservation Districts about updating the 20-year-old Memorandum of Agreement to more accurately reflect roles and responsibilities within the modern regulatory context.

Ecology remains committed to the long-standing relationships it has built over many decades with Conservation District staff and their boards throughout the state.

Last updated March 2015