Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nutrient Management Plan - Final Rules for CAFO NPDES Permit

In October 2008, EPA finalized a rule helping to protect the nation’s water quality by requiring concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to safely manage manure. The rule deadline for newly defined facilities to apply for permits is February 27, 2009.

One of the key requirements under the new rules is for a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) for manure to be submitted as part of a CAFO’s Clean Water Act permit application. Previous rules required a CAFO operator to use an NMP for controlling manure, but did not required 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 regulation also requires that an owner or operator of a CAFO that actually discharges to streams, lakes, and other waters must apply for a permit under the Clean Water Act. If a farmer designs, constructs, operates and maintains their facility such that a discharge will occur, a permit is needed. EPA is also providing an opportunity for CAFO operators who do not discharge or propose to discharge to show their commitment to pollution prevention by obtaining certification as zero dischargers.

Finally, the final rule includes technical clarifications regarding water quality-based effluent limitations and use of best management practices to meet zero discharge requirements, as well as affirming the 2003 rule requirement for reducing fecal coliform bacteria through the use of best conventional technology (BCT).

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