Washington state dairy farms may soon be required to have Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permits. A CAFO is a facility that confines animals for 45 days or more during any 12 month period in an area that doesn’t contain crops and that has or had a discharge. Manure from these types of facilities that contain animals such as cows, horses and chickens can pose a threat to water quality.
The motive behind the proposed rewrite is to prevent manure-tainted water from entering streams from feedlots or concentrated animal feeding operations. The state’s Department of Ecology (DOE) is basing this decision on studies that concluded that unlined lagoons leak pollution into groundwater. Other contributing factors of the potential to pollute found in the study found in a 2009 NRCS report include the distance between the lagoon bottom and aquifiers, the depth of the lagoon and soil types.
In Washington state a general permit is administered in an effort to protect water from manure discharge pollution. The permit is combined with the National Pollutant Discharge Eliminations System (NPDES) and State Waste Discharge permit. Lagoon liners could mean cleaner groundwater and compliance with the new ruling.
Manure Lagoon Liners
The DOE plans to release a more formal proposal later this year and may adopt the new rule early next year. Washington dairy farmers should prepare for the upcoming ruling by finding the best lagoon liners for their specific needs. If and when the rule goes into effect, dairy farms won’t necessarily need to purchase and install manure lagoon liners to comply with the DOE, but will have to take all “known, available and reasonable methods” to prevent manure from polluting groundwater, surface water or row crops.
Manure lagoons exempt from the DOE’s ruling and requirement of a CAFO permit would be those already lined with two synthetic layers with a leak-detection system between the layers. Currently only 10 producers have CAFO permits of the 450 dairy farms in Washington.
Contact BTL Liners for more information about manure lagoon liners.