The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission today adopted rules governing totally roofed confinement feeding operations in a unanimous vote.
The Iowa Legislature had previously directed the commission to adopt the federal rules. Adoption also was a condition of a work plan agreement between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that was signed on Sept.11, 2013.
Federal rules state the law passed in Iowa could be no less stringent than federal law. A bill in the Iowa Legislature signed in 2010 states these laws can be no more stringent than federal law.
The rules require facilities with discharges that cannot be remedied to have a federal permit to discharge to waters of the U.S. Called a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit. Operations that need the permits must meet federal design, construction and monitoring standards.
“Iowa has 167 open feedlots with NPDES permits,” said Bill Ehm, DNR administrator for environmental services. “These unroofed or partially roofed facilities have historically had some runoff through the feedlot when it rains. I don’t expect many NPDES permits to be issued to confinements.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association and the DNR maintain that most swine confinement sites will not require an NPDES permit as manure is totally contained and any accidental discharges will have an opportunity to be remedied. Additionally, it is already against the law for Iowa confinement facilities to discharge to waters of the U.S., with violators subject to fines and restitution.
“Most confinements will not need the protection of an NPDES permit, because they are unlikely to discharge,” Ehm added. “Most manure releases we’ve had in Iowa have been caused by a one-time event – like an accident or failure of a pipe – problems that the producer can demonstrate have been fixed with permanent measures that eliminate the cause of the discharge.
Any NPDES permit holders must continue to meet existing requirements of Iowa law for construction permits and siting, manure management plans and land application.
More information is available at www.iowadnr.gov/afo/