Posted September 17, 2013
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) have reached an agreement for changes to Iowa’s Clean Water Act (CWA) permit and compliance program for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), according to the EPA press release, available here
Karl Brooks, EPA regional administrator said, “This agreement, developed after extensive public and industry input commits IDNR to making needed and achievable improvements to the system that keeps CAFOs compliant with the CWA.  Iowans who operate a world-class livestock sector will continue to thrive in a first-rate permitting and inspection program.”
EPA’s investigation of Iowa’s permit and compliance program for CAFOs 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 “petitions when they are concerned that a state is not meeting the minimum NPDES program requirements.”
According to a Des Moines Register article, available here, provisions of the agreement will: change provisions of Iowa’s CAFO rules, so Iowa law is consistent with the CWA; conduct a comprehensive survey of all large CAFOs and medium-sized AFOs that currently don’t have CWA wastewater discharge permits, and identify those failing to comply with the CWA; conduct on-site inspections as circumstances allow; inspect all permitted AFOs within five years following an inspection procedure; issue timely wastewater discharge permits to qualifying AFOs; and take timely and appropriate enforcement action when needed.
Iowa DNR Director, Chuck Gipp, said that this agreement “clarifies program implementation and is a reflection of Iowans working together on a common-sense solution that will encourage best practices and promote open communication between affected Iowans and the DNR.”