The Environmental Protection Agency has revised its proposed rule for regulating Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations under the Clean Water Act. The modifications are in response to the order issued by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Waterkeeper Alliance et al. v. EPA.

Under the 2003 CAFO rule, all facilities that qualified as a CAFO would have had to apply for a general or individual National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and develop and implement nutrient management plans.

Under the new proposed rule, EPA would require only the owners and operators of CAFOs that discharge or propose to discharge to get a NPDES permit. In addition, CAFOs seeking coverage under a permit must submit their nutrient management plans (NMP) with their application for an individual permit or notice of intent to be authorized under a general permit.

Permitting authorities would be required to review the plan and provide the public with an opportunity for meaningful public review and comment and would be required to incorporate terms of the NMP as NPDES permit conditions. EPA also proposes to authorize permit writers, upon request by a new CAFO, to establish best management, zero-discharge effluent limitations when the facility demonstrates that it has designed an open containment system that will comply with the no discharge requirements.

The proposed new deadline to obtain federal clean water permits — for those who need one — and to develop and implement nutrient management plans is July 31, 2007.

Because of the changes, the revised rule must be published in the Federal Register. (It is expected to be in the June 30 or July 3 issue of the Federal Register.) EPA will provide a 45-day comment period and hold public listening sessions around the country.

You can read a copy of the proposed rule on EPA's Web site at, EPA, NPPC