- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
A new final rule that will require all large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to obtain permits to ensure they protect public waterways from wastewater and manure. The rule “will help reduce what has been a growing problem — the fact that animal waste generated by [CAFOs] poses an increasing threat to the health of America’s waters,” EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said.
The new rule applies to about 15,500 livestock operations across the country. All large CAFOs will be required to apply for a permit, submit an annual report and implement a plan for handling manure and wastewater. In addition, the rule places controls on land application of manure and wastewater, covering all major animal agriculture sectors, and increases public access to information through CAFO annual reports.
The rule also eliminates current permitting exemptions and expands coverage over types of animals by:
• Eliminating the exemption that excuses CAFOs from applying for permits if they only discharge during large storms;
• Removing the exemption for operations that raise chickens with dry manure handling systems; and
• Extending coverage to immature swine and immature dairy cows.
Permits currently cover about 4,500 operations. EPA estimates that with the new rule, up to 11,000 additional facilities will be required to apply for permits by 2006. The rule will affect large livestock operations including those with hundreds of thousands of hogs, cattle and poultry. Large CAFOs are defined in the rule as operations raising more than 1,000 cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 swine, 10,000 sheep, 125,000 chickens, 82,000 laying hens, and 55,000 turkeys in confinement.
About 500 million tons of manure is generated annually by an estimated 238,000 large livestock operations. From 1982 to 1997, these operations have grown by 51 percent, with some of the large-capacity facilities exceeding a million animals.
This rule will enhance protection of the nation’s waters from nutrient over-enrichment and eutrophication that cause algal blooms, fish kills and the expansion of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. The rule will also vastly reduce releases of pathogens, nitrogen, metals and sediment.