Monday, July 16, 2012

EPA Findings On Review Of Iowa DNR CAFO NPDES Program

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued initial findings from an informal investigation of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) permit program for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and has identified several correctable deficiencies. EPA’s investigation was carried out in response to a petition for withdrawal of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program authorization from IDNR that was filed in 2007 by the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project. Federal regulations allow interested parties to file these petitions when they are concerned that a state is not meeting the minimum NPDES program requirements.

EPA’s initial findings identify deficiencies in IDNR’s NPDES program that the state agency will need to correct. Among others, EPA found that IDNR does not have an adequate program to assess whether unpermitted CAFOs need NPDES permits. The findings also note that IDNR must clarify its authority to issue NPDES permits to confinement (roofed) CAFOs that discharge. EPA also found that in a number of cases involving Clean Water Act (CWA) violations, IDNR failed to take timely and adequate enforcement actions, and assess adequate penalties.

The issuance of the initial report is the first step in the process in which EPA will work with IDNR to correct the deficiencies. EPA has asked that IDNR provide a written response to the report, within 60 days, describing the actions IDNR has taken or will take to correct the deficiencies, including a proposed plan and timeline to address the deficiencies. EPA intends to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on IDNR proposals to correct the deficiencies.

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