State panel to consider petition testing definition of ‘discharge'

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, January 11, 2012 -A North Carolina Environmental Management Commission (EMC) committee that oversees National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits is scheduled to hear arguments today over whether the state's largest egg farm, needs a NPDES permit. If so, the panel is also expected to address state authority to regulate ammonia emissions under the permit.

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In Rose Acre Farms and North Carolina Poultry Federation v. North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the state's Division of Water Quality (DWQ) challenges last year's ruling, which found that ammonia emissions from feathers and dust that escape from Rose Acres Farms into a retention pond do not qualify as “discharge.”

The appeal may serve as the first test of what defines a “discharge” from a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). If qualified as “discharge,” runoff is subject to EPA water quality regulations.

The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) wants EMC to determine that the farm does discharge and needs a NPDES permit. It also asks EMC to find that DWQ has authority to limit ammonia emissions. According to DWQ, “the Rose Acre facility has a stormwater retention pond that has the sole purpose of collecting and discharging runoff from the production area into the waters of the United States.”

However, Rose Acre Farms objects to claims that the facility contributes to poor water quality. North Carolina State University researchers found that the Rose Acre Farm “is situated in the best location that could have ever been chosen on the East Coast of the United States to minimize any impact of ammonia emissions from this facility on the surrounding land and quality of water draining from its land.”



Original story printed in January 11, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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