STATEMENT OF MICHAEL COOK
DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT
DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON LIVESTOCK, DAIRY, AND POULTRY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FORESTRY, RESOURCE CONSERVATION,
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
U. S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
May 13, 1998
REDUCING WATER POLLUTION FROM
ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATIONS
Members of the Subcommittees, I am Mike Cook, Director of the Office of Wastewater Management and with me is Elaine Stanley, Director of the Office of Compliance at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
We very much appreciate the opportunity to talk with you today about the Administration's efforts to restore and protect America's waters and the role that animal feeding operations (AFOs) can play in improving water quality.
We are very pleased to be joined by our colleagues from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). We realize how critical cooperation between our agencies is to meeting our Nation's natural resource goals. Just last week, Administrator Carol Browner and Secretary Dan Glickman addressed a national meeting on AFO issues and expressed their commitment to work together to develop an effective common sense approach to animal manure management.
We have three major goals in speaking with you today --
- We want to briefly outline the big picture for clean water -- what are the problems and how do we propose to solve the problems;
- We want to describe how animal feeding operations fit into the clean water picture; and
- We want to describe how we at EPA plan to work hand-in-hand with USDA to develop a joint, unified strategy to minimize the threats to the environment and public health posed by animal feeding operations.
I. CLEAN WATER -- THE BIG PICTURE
On February 19, 1998, at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, President Clinton and Vice President Gore announced the Administration's Clean Water Action Plan. This Action Plan, initiated on the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act (CWA), expresses our intent to finish the job of cleaning up America's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters to protect the environment and the health of all Americans.
Clean Water -- Successes and Remaining Challenges
The Action Plan recognizes that the quality of our waters has improved dramatically as a result of a cooperative effort by federal, State and local governments to reduce water pollution and protect natural resources. All Americans can be proud of the progress the Nation has made toward clean water over the past 25 years.
Twenty-five years ago, sewage treatment facilities served only 85 million people. Today, the number of people served by adequate sewage treatment has more than doubled to 173 million.
Industrial pollution controls established since 1972 prevent billions of pounds of pollutants from being discharged each year.
Twenty-five years ago, wetland losses were estimated at 460,000 acres per year but today, wetland losses have been reduced significantly.
Since 1982, soil erosion from cropland has been reduced by more than one-third, saving over a billion tons of soil each year and substantially reducing sediments, nutrients and other pollutants to waters.
Despite significant progress in reducing water pollution, serious water quality problems persist throughout the country. Recent State reports of water quality conditions indicate that --
- 36% of monitored rivers and streams are impaired and another 8% are threatened;
- 39% of assessed lakes are impaired and another 10% are threatened; and
- 38% of assessed estuaries are impaired and another 4% are threatened.
Based on this monitoring information, States identified about 15,000 individual waterbodies in 1996 that do not now meet clean water goals. States are updating these figures and are now developing revised, more accurate lists.
Last year, EPA worked with other federal agencies, including USDA, States, Tribes, citizens, and private organizations to develop an information system to present diverse data about the health of aquatic systems in each of the over 2,000 watersheds in the country. This information system, called the Index of Watershed Indicators, also provides initial assessments of overall aquatic conditions in the watersheds. These assessments indicate that --
- 16% of watersheds in the continental U.S. have good water quality;
- 36% have moderate water quality problems;
- 21% have serious water quality problems; and
- 27% lack sufficient data to make an overall assessment.
The Remaining Water Pollution Problems
Speaking in very general terms, much of our progress in reducing water pollution has been the result of improving controls over discharges of sewage and industrial wastes. We need to continue to address these significant pollution sources, but today, the major challenge we face is to better manage polluted runoff from urban areas, construction sites, forest harvesting operations, and agriculture.
States report that the leading causes of water quality impairments include siltation, nutrients, bacteria, oxygen-depleting substances, metals, habitat alteration, pesticides, and organic toxic chemicals. These pollutants come from a wide variety of sources, including sewage treatment plants, urban runoff, combined sewers, storm water discharges, resource extraction, removal of streamside vegetation, forestry, and agriculture (see table below).
Five Leading Sources of Water Quality Impairment
Related to Human Activities (1996 State 305(b) Reports)
Rank Rivers Lakes Estuaries
1 Agriculture Agriculture Industrial Discharges
2 Municipal Sewage Treatment Plants Unspecified Nonpoint Sources Urban
3 Hydrologic Modification Atmospheric Deposition Municipal Point Sources
4 Habitat Modification Urban Runoff/Storm Sewers Upstream Sources
5 Urban Runoff/Storm Sewers Municipal Point Sources Agriculture
While many diverse sources contribute to water pollution, States report that agriculture is the most widespread source of pollution in the Nation's surveyed rivers. Based on these reports from all 50 States, we estimate that agriculture generates pollutants that degrade aquatic life or interfere with public use of 173,629 river miles (i.e. 25% of all river miles surveyed) and contributes to 70% of all water quality problems identified in rivers and streams.
Twenty-two States reported on the impacts of specific types of agriculture. Nonirrigated crop production leads the list of agricultural activities, affecting 36% of impaired river miles in these 22 States, followed by irrigated crop production, affecting 22% of impaired river miles. Taken as a group, animal operations, including feedlots and animal holding areas, affect 20% of impaired river miles, or about 35,000 river miles in these 22 States. Rangeland and pasture land are identified as affecting 12% and 11% of impaired river miles respectively.
Consequences of Water Pollution
Water pollution clearly degrades environmental quality, but it also diminishes recreational and economic opportunities and poses clear threats to public health.
In the Gulf of Mexico, a hypoxic or "dead" zone (an area with low levels of oxygen), threatens the livelihood of fishermen. The area has excess amounts of nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed.
In some Maryland and Virginia tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay and in the Neuse River in North Carolina, the microorganism Pfiesteria has killed fish and posed a risk to people. Other harmful algal blooms and biotoxins have also affected the health of people, in addition to harming fish, shellfish, and other wildlife. Pfiesteria and harmful algal blooms have been associated with excessive nutrients in water.
Of the nation's 382 million acres of croplands, over 70 million acres suffer erosion rates that threaten long-term productivity. Poor land management and agricultural practices directly affect surface waters throughout the country.
Polluted runoff from urban and agricultural areas adds sediment into waters that carry it downstream and deposit it into harbors or reservoirs. Federal and non-federal dredging in coastal areas and the disposal of dredged materials costs about $1 billion per year.
In 1996, 2,193 fish consumption advisories were issued in 48 States. The presence of mercury, PCBs, chlordane, dioxin, and DDT was responsible for the majority of fish consumption advisories in 1996.
Coastal States report unhealthy levels of pollution-related bacteria at swimming beaches. More than 2,500 beach closings and advisories were posted in 1996. Illnesses caused by these bacteria are of particular concern to families with children.
A New Approach to Restoring and Protecting Water Quality
After 25 years of progress, the Nations's clean water program is at a crossroads. Implementation of existing programs will not stop serious new threats to public health, living resources and the Nation's waterways. We have made tremendous progress, but our existing programs lack the strength, resources, and framework to fully restore rivers, lakes and coastal waters. To fulfill the original goal of the Clean Water Act -- "fishable and swimmable" water for every American -- the Nation must chart a new course for clean water.
The Clean Water Action Plan announced by the President in February outlines a blueprint for the future clean water program including over 100 key actions organized around four key tools to achieve clean water goals.
A Watershed Approach: The Action Plan envisions a new, collaborative effort by federal, State, Tribal, and local governments, the public, and the private sector to restore and sustain the health of the Nation's watersheds. The watershed approach is the key to setting priorities and taking action to clean up waters.
Strong Federal and State Standards: The Action Plan calls for federal, State, and Tribal agencies to revise standards where needed and make existing programs more effective. Effective standards are key to protecting public health, preventing polluted runoff, and ensuring accountability.
Natural Resource Stewardship: Most of the land in the Nation's watersheds is cropland, pasture, rangeland, or forests, and most of the water that ends up in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters falls on these lands first. Clean water depends on the conservation and stewardship of these natural resources. The Action Plan calls on federal natural resource and conservation agencies to apply their resources and technical expertise to State and local watershed restoration and protection.
Informed Citizens and Officials: Clear, accurate, and timely information is the foundation of a sound and accountable water quality program. Informed citizens and officials make better decisions about their watersheds. The Action Plan calls on federal agencies to improve the information available to the public, governments, and others about the health of their watersheds and the safety of their beaches, drinking water, and fish.
To support the Action Plan's expanded program to restore and protect the Nation's waters, the President's FY 1999 budget proposes a Clean Water and Watershed Restoration Budget Initiative. The funding provided in this budget initiative will increase federal financial support for clean water programs in FY 1999 by $568 million and by over $2.3 billion over the FY 1999-2003 period. Specifically, the Clean Water and Watershed Restoration Budget Initiative would --
- increase direct grant support to States and Tribes to carry out a watershed approach to clean water;
- increase technical and financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and foresters to reduce polluted runoff and enhance the natural resources on their lands;
- fund watershed assistance programs and grants to engage local communities and citizens in leadership roles in restoring their watersheds;
- accelerate progress in addressing critical water quality problems on federal lands, including those related to roads, abandoned mines, riparian areas, and rangelands;
- expand and coordinate water quality monitoring programs; and
- increase efforts to restore nationally significant watersheds, such as the Florida Everglades and the San Francisco Bay-Delta.
II. ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATIONS (AFOs)
The term "animal feeding operation" refers to a wide range of animal operations, including large facilities raising thousands, or tens of thousands, of animals. These large facilities are referred to as "concentrated animal feeding operations" or CAFOs and generally have in excess of 1,000 animal units (i.e. 1,000 slaughter cattle or a comparable number of other animals). In cases where an animal feeding operation poses a direct threat to water quality, EPA or State agencies has addressed facilities with less than 1,000 animal units.
An Evolving Industry
The nature of the animal feeding industry has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Advances in technologies for raising and feeding animals, decreases in transportation costs, and organizational changes in agricultural businesses and corporations have transformed the industry. The data overwhelmingly shows a shift in the industry from smaller to much larger operations.
The total number of animal feeding operations has declined in every sector -- beef cattle, dairy, poultry (including layers, broilers, and turkeys), and swine. During this same time period, the total number of animals in each facility has increased (see Figure 1).
While Figure 1 shows changes in national averages, examples from specific States are illustrative of current trends.
In Illinois, the average number of turkeys per turkey farm increased by 2,686% between 1982 and 1992. Other States with large shifts toward consolidation include North Dakota (1,194% over the same time period), Kansas (868%), and South Dakota (767%). The number of turkey farms in these States declined by 37%, 66%, 30%, and 71%, respectively. (Source: 1992 Census of Agriculture).
In North Carolina, the average number of hogs per hog farm increased by 578% between 1982 and 1992. Similarly, Arkansas experienced a 271% increase, and California and Virginia each experienced a 202% increase. These increases in the number of hogs per hog farm occurred while each State experienced a decline in the number of hog farms by 62%, 50%, 54%, and 71%, respectively. (Source: 1992 Census of Agriculture) Increase in Animal Units per Operation (1978-1992)
Figure 1: Industry Consolidation of Cattle, Dairy, Hog, Broiler, Layer, and Turkey Animal Feeding Operations (Note: Numbers in box show percent increase in the average number of animal units per animal feeding operation, not just the change in the number of operations. Data source: Animal Agriculture: Information on Waste Management and Water Issues, General Accounting Office, 1995.)
Water Quality Impacts
As noted above, State reports of water quality conditions indicate that agriculture is the single largest source of water pollution in rivers and lakes, and these reports suggest that animal feeding operations are a significant part of this problem. As noted above, twenty-two States reported on the impacts of specific types of agriculture, and identified animal operations -- including feedlots and animal holding areas -- as the third largest type of agricultural activity affecting water quality and impacting 20% of impaired river miles, or about 35,000 river miles, in these 22 States.
Animal feeding operations can impair water quality in a number of ways. If not collected and treated properly, animal manure can pollute surface and/or ground water with excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Animal manure is commonly spread on agricultural land for its nutrient and organic value for both crops and the soil. If the manure is not spread in accordance with a nutrient management plan (which applies nutrients at the rates which crops can use them), nitrogen and phosphorus will leave farms and enter waterbodies, causing depletion of dissolved oxygen and eutrophication. In addition, grazing animals can cause streambank erosion and erosion from fields which have been overgrazed.
Studies have shown that animal feeding operations, and particularly when several of these facilities are concentrated in a single watershed, can increase nutrient pollution to a river or stream. For example, a study of Herrings Marsh Run in the coastal plain of North Carolina showed that nitrate levels in stream and ground water were highest in areas with the greatest concentration of swine and poultry production. (Hunt, P.G., et. al. 1995. Impact of animal waste on water quality in an eastern coastal plain watershed. Animal Waste and the Land-Water Interface, Kenneth Steele, Ed., Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL, 589 pp.)
Illinois EPA studies and field investigations have confirmed that runoff from confined animal feeding operations can adversely impact surface water resources in Illinois. Observed effects include increases in ammonia-nitrogen concentrations resulting from animal wastes and fish kills as a result of manure application on frozen ground. (Ackerman and Taylor, 1995, Stream Impacts due to Feedlot Runoff. Animal Waste and the Land-Water Interface, Kenneth Steele, Ed., Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL, 589 pp.)
South Dakota monitored nine feedlots to document the water quality benefits of installing animal waste management systems. Most feedlots studied had a negative effect on water quality through increased loadings of nutrients. After installation of animal waste management systems, several feedlots exhibited evidence of improving water quality in streams. (South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts, S.D. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1996, Final Report - Animal Waste Management Team).
AFOs can also cause catastrophic effects locally. In June 1995, animal waste contained in an eight-acre lagoon in North Carolina burst through its dike, spilling approximately 22 million gallons of animal waste into the New River. The spill was twice the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and reportedly killed fish along a 19-mile downstream area. It was the worst of six reported spills in the State during the summer of 1995 (EPA Office of Inspector General, March 1997, Animal Waste Disposal Issues, Audit Report No. E1XWF7-13-0085-7100142).
Past Efforts to Address Water Quality Impacts of AFOs
The serious water quality impacts of large AFOs have been recognized for many years. In 1974, EPA issued a national effluent guideline that established national minimum discharge standards for large operations (i.e. feedlots). These large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are defined as "point sources" by the Clean Water Act (Section 502) and, as such, are subject to the permitting requirements of the Act.
In the 25 years since the Clean Water Act's passage, EPA and the States have emphasized the more traditional point sources of pollution such as municipal wastewater treatment plants, and industrial discharges. Of the approximately 6,600 CAFOs in the United States, about one-quarter are covered by Clean Water Act discharge permits today.
EPA has developed a number of programs to support animal feeding operations and to address the potential environmental and public health impacts from these facilities --
Under section 319 of the Clean Water Act, EPA provides just over $100 million in grants to States each year to help implement nonpoint source programs and fund nonpoint source projects designed to demonstrate controls and document effectiveness of best management practices in different settings, including animal feeding operations. The President's FY 1999 Budget Initiative for the Clean Water Action Plan would almost double this funding to $200 million per year.
EPA's Nonpoint Source Control Program also works with nonprofit organizations, States, commodity groups and the public to promote voluntary implementation of nonpoint source controls.
The State Revolving Loan Funds created by each State under authority in the Clean Water Act can provide loans for projects that address pollution from nonpoint sources, including animal feeding operations. State loan funds make loans worth over $2 billion each year, and a number of States have funded projects related to animal waste, such as waste storage ponds and composting facilities.
EPA maintains a national agricultural assistance center in Kansas City and is currently working with USDA and the Land Grant Universities to develop a livestock focus at the Center.
In addition, EPA has worked closely with USDA to develop a number of efforts related to animal feeding operations including the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, the Buffer Initiative, and other conservation activities. EPA was also an active participant in the National Environmental Dialogue on Pork Production.
EPA's Draft Animal Feeding Operation Strategy
EPA recently released a draft Strategy for Addressing Environmental and Public Health Impacts from Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs).
Under development for over a year, the EPA draft AFO Strategy is the product of extensive discussions with our federal and State partners, and livestock, environmental, and public interest groups. The draft EPA AFO Strategy includes specific short-term and long-term activities to substantially expand existing efforts to minimize the environmental and public health threats of AFOs. The draft Strategy establishes five overall objectives --
- Expand Compliance and Enforcement Efforts: EPA will work with States to expand the use of compliance assistance and enforcement to ensure that existing CWA requirements are implemented. EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) has developed a Compliance Assurance Implementation Plan for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), the first product identified in EPA's draft AFO Strategy. We elaborate on these efforts on the next page. Improve Clean Water Act Permits: EPA will work with States to significantly expand the number of facilities that currently have CWA permits, and to include permit conditions that address water pollution problems associated with animal manure management.
- Focus on Priority Watersheds: EPA and States, with the assistance of USDA and other partners, will summarize data on the location of AFOs and CAFOs to identify watersheds that are a priority for action.
- Revise Existing Regulations: EPA will work with States, the regulated community, and citizens to revise both the CWA permit program regulations and the existing effluent limitations guidelines for feedlots.
- Increase EPA/USDA Coordination: EPA, USDA, and other partners will coordinate more closely on the full range of AFO-related activities.
Improving Compliance with Existing CAFO Requirements
EPA supports voluntary programs to achieve compliance and has devoted significant efforts recently to working with USDA and the farming community to improve compliance. For example, we have an agriculture compliance assistance center providing information to the farming community about its legal obligations. USDA and the land grant universities are the center's major partners. Inspection and enforcement efforts, however, will also have to play a role in improving the management of livestock waste. Many operations are complying with the regulations and must be commended and supported for their good performance. Our enforcement efforts are designed to address those facilities that are not complying voluntarily. Our goal is to level the playing field of all producers by supporting farmers doing the right thing and meeting their legal obligations and removing the economic advantage of those who fail to comply.
The vast majority of the 450,000 animal feeding operations in the United States are not the focus of our compliance and enforcement activity. Our focus is rather the larger operations that meet the regulatory definition of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and other facilities that are designated as CAFOs because of their impact on the environment. As we address these facilities, we are prioritizing our activity in those watersheds where CAFOs are potentially causing the greatest environmental harm. In addition to utilizing our CAFO authorities, EPA plans to use its emergency authorities to address imminent and substantial endangerments to human and health and the environment posed by feedlot operations. EPA's Compliance Assurance Implementation Plan for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, released on March 5, 1998, provides for:
- coordination with States and other federal Agencies such as USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Cooperative State Research and Education Service;
- coordination with stakeholders to identify and provide compliance assistance information;
- increased compliance assistance to CAFOs to provide better information, including efforts by the EPA's Agriculture Compliance Assistance Center to this segment of the agriculture sector;
- development of State-specific compliance and enforcement strategies which take into account existing State programs and State and federal priorities using risk-based targeting;
- feedback from inspections which can be used for improvements in targeting compliance assistance, inspections, and permitting activities, including designating facilities as CAFOs; and,
- an active risk-based compliance monitoring program to assure CAFO compliance with the existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements. An enhanced federal/State field presence (i.e., inspections and compliance assistance activities) will foster compliance, as will enforcement actions when violations are found.
The bulk of the compliance and enforcement activity will clearly be conducted by our State partners, forty-three of which are authorized to implement the Clean Water Act permitting and enforcement programs. Following a national meeting last May in Kansas City with the States, we issued our CAFO Compliance Assurance Plan. A key element of that Plan which the States encouraged is the development of the State- specific compliance and enforcement strategies to achieve compliance. EPA recognizes that many States have broader authorities (e.g., operator certification, plan review, siting, odor, nuisance, etc.) than does EPA which allows a comprehensive approach to addressing animal waste issues. We support States in their efforts to use these authorities. EPA believes that an active inspection and enforcement program, whether it is State or federally administered, is critical to improve compliance in this area. Attachment 1 to this testimony provides a brief summary of EPA Region 10 efforts to develop partnerships with the States and others to improve compliance by CAFOs with existing requirements.
III. A JOINT USDA/EPA NATIONAL AFO STRATEGY
EPA worked closely with USDA in developing the EPA draft AFO Strategy. Through this process, we at EPA gained an appreciation of the significant benefits that would result from expanding EPA/USDA coordination and cooperation on issues related to AFOs. In addition, over the past several months, EPA and USDA worked very closely and effectively to develop the Clean Water Action Plan. We concluded that the best approach to addressing water quality problems resulting from AFOs was to establish a joint, USDA/EPA strategy. The Clean Water Action Plan includes a clear commitment to the creation and implementation of a joint USDA-EPA national AFO strategy to minimize the environmental and public health impacts of AFOs. Our goal is to develop a single unified strategy and to fold the draft EPA AFO Strategy into a single unified national strategy.
On May 5, Administrator Browner and Secretary Glickman laid out their vision for ways that USDA and EPA can achieve a "marriage" of the knowledge, resources and programs of the federal government to help livestock producers ensure effective waste management and protect water quality and public health. The Joint AFO Strategy is about putting in place the tools and resources to ensure that livestock producers understand what is expected and have the information to implement management practices that foster their historical stewardship role.
For the vast majority of the 450,000 AFOs nationwide, we expect to rely heavily on the voluntary actions by livestock producers to effectively manage animal wastes and to protect water quality. EPA and USDA need to be sure that the joint strategy facilitates effective delivery of appropriate technical and financial assistance. Clean Water Act permits from EPA and the States are best tailored to address the largest operations and other, smaller operations that have been designated as CAFOs because of impacts to water quality. EPA welcomes input from USDA to ensure that current and future regulatory programs are effectively targeted and to help CAFOs ensure they are in compliance. Industry led efforts such as the Pork Environmental Dialogue and the subsequent onsite environmental assistance program and the current Poultry Dialogue are also critical to our collective success.
Joint EPA/USDA AFO Strategy -- Key Elements
The EPA and USDA have agreed on the key elements of a joint AFO Strategy. These key elements are described in the Clean Water Action Plan and include --
Coordinate program and interagency cooperation. USDA and EPA will work together in common areas of interest, including data collection and management, technical standards development, monitoring, and establishment and tracking of appropriate environmental performance measures. For example, USDA will continue to review and revise comprehensive technical standards and educational programs for AFOs in cooperation with other federal agencies. In addition, USDA and EPA will develop a plan seeking to ensure that appropriate management systems are incorporated into Clean Water Act permits by States and EPA.
Develop and implement comprehensive management systems for AFOs. USDA and EPA will work to establish environmentally sustainable systems that will offer practical and cost-effective approaches to managing manures and carcasses. For example, USDA and EPA will establish comprehensive and verifiable management systems for AFOs by 2002, engage stakeholders to achieve use of farm-specific nutrient budgets for at least 50% of AFOs by 2005, and promote development of marketable products from animal wastes and carcasses from 1998 onward. EPA and States will seek to incorporate comprehensive management systems should be incorporated into Clean Water Act discharge permits. EPA will work with States to issue Clean Water Act permits to all CAFOs by 2005, consistent with any new regulations the Agency will have promulgated.
Revise and strengthen existing permit regulations. EPA will work with USDA and States to: revise the Clean Water Act discharge regulations, including comprehensive management measures (e.g., land application), by 2002; revise the existing feedlots effluent limitations guideline for poultry and swine by 2001 and for beef and dairy cattle by 2002; and, develop improved tools for writing discharge permits under current regulations (e.g., case-by-case designation guidance and guidance on establishing best management practices by 1998.
Provide incentives to enhance environmental protection. Federal agencies will encourage environmental protection beyond that required by regulatory controls through new initiatives such as an awards program recognizing efforts by AFOs to reduce pollution (by 2000); through the provision of incentives for the conversion of animal wastes into marketable products (by 2004); and through the formation of a public/private partnership to create market incentives to improve environmental performance.
Develop a coordinated plan for research. Federal agencies will, in coordination with stakeholders, develop a coordinated plan for research, development, and assessment that establishes priorities for developing ways to better manage nutrients, pathogens, and other pollutants; modify animal diets to reduce nutrients in manure; mitigate sites with excess pollutants; and assess impacts of best management practices from farm and watershed perspectives.
Develop watershed nutrient budgets. Federal agencies will determine the relative contributions of nutrients in watersheds from all sources. USDA will publish by 1998 data on counties having potential nutrient excess from animal manure. EPA and USDA will estimate by 2000 a baseline of nutrient loads to the watersheds identified above from animal data, fertilizer sales, Census of Agriculture, permit limits, and other estimates. USDA will revise the Census of Agriculture to include waste management practices by the 2002 Census.
Target activities to priority watersheds. Federal and State agencies should ensure that activities such as permitting, inspections, enforcement, funding, education, outreach, and technical assistance for AFOs are targeted to priority watersheds. For example, EPA, with support from USDA, States, and Tribes, will identify by 1999 watersheds at greatest risk from AFOs. EPA and USDA will develop criteria for and demonstrate the effectiveness of targeting coordinated assistance and federal environmental subsidies to States and AFOs by 2000. EPA will also increase enforcement of existing permits and unpermitted discharges, require new permits where appropriate, and use emergency powers to address situations presenting an imminent and substantial endangerment, where appropriate.
Encourage establishment of a certification program. The Strategy will encourage establishment of a certification program to ensure effective development and implementation of management systems for unpermitted AFOs.
Joint AFO Strategy Development Process
EPA and USDA have already begun to develop this joint AFO Strategy. An interagency workgroup has met several times to begin drafting the joint Strategy.
After the draft joint strategy is released in July, EPA and USDA plan to hold public meetings and otherwise solicit public input on the draft strategy. All of these activities are expected to culminate in a final USDA/EPA AFO Strategy in November 1998.
Farmers were among the first stewards of our Nation's natural resources and farmers consistently recognize the value of protecting water quality and the environment. By working with the farm community and others, I am confident that USDA and EPA can jointly develop a sound, common sense approach to reducing the environmental and public health threats posed by large animal feeding operations.
I thank the Subcommittees and will be happy to answer questions.
* * *TESTIMONY OF MICHAEL COOK AND ELAINE STANLEY ATTACHMENT 1 -- THE CAFO PROGRAM IN REGION 10
EPA Region 10 consists of the States of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. CAFOs in Region 10 are varied and include poultry, sheep, beef, dairy as well as other types of operations. However, the majority of CAFO operations in Region 10 are dairies. Accordingly, the remainder of the Region 10 discussion will focus on dairies.
Over the past few years, serious environmental impacts resulting from discharges of manure from dairy operations have directed a portion of our resources to dairy compliance activities. Compliance activities have thus far consisted of education, outreach, compliance assistance, and appropriate enforcement. Dairy waste impacts include instances such as the November 1996 fish kill in northwest Washington resulting from an overflow of manure from a dairy to a nearby slough and the closure of a commercial shellfish bed belonging to the Lummi Indian Nation in Whatcom County, Washington. Other impacts include elevated nitrate levels in ground water, algae blooms in lakes and rivers, and the release of harmful bacteria such as E. Coli to water bodies.
The key environmental concern associated with dairy operations is the large volume of wastes that are generated. For instance, a 1000 cow dairy can produce approximately 120,000 pounds of waste per day. This is the functional equivalent to the amount of sanitary waste produced by a town of twenty thousand people. This concern is compounded by the fact that many dairies with untreated manure discharges are concentrated in small areas and they impact and degrade sensitive water bodies. For example, in Whatcom County, Washington alone there are approximately 250 dairies and some of the manure discharges from those dairies have contributed to the closure of the Lummi Indian Nation commercial shellfish beds as mentioned above.
The federal rules currently governing CAFOs, including dairies, have been in place since 1974. These rules require zero discharge of pollutants, including manure, from CAFO dairy operations. Typically, this can be achieved at most dairies through the use of a closed-loop waste management system. Specifically, this means that dairies should utilize a system such as a waste storage pond to contain the generated manure and associated wastewater. In most cases the manure mixture can be contained throughout the nongrowing season and subsequently used as fertilizer during the growing season. If the dairy is maintained and operated properly, there should be no manure entering surface waters or migrating downward and degrading valuable ground water resources. From our extensive field experience, many dairy operations are complying with regulations and they have been commended on their well maintained operations. Unfortunately, it is also our experience that several of the dairies that are CAFOs fail to meet these existing 1974 requirements. Such dairies discharge untreated manure to surface and/or ground water on a routine basis. This fact, coupled with the large amount of manure and wastewater generated, creates a significant potential for impacts to human health and the environment.
EPA Region 10's strategy for promoting compliance by the dairies with the CAFO regulations is multifaceted. It addition to the traditional permitting and enforcement components, the Region focused its efforts toward working in cooperation and in partnership with the regulated industry, such as the Washington Dairy Federation, the Idaho Department of Agriculture, as well as involved Indian Tribes, the general public, and other State and federal agencies. Our efforts with the States of Washington and Idaho and others are good examples of "partnerships".
In Washington State, CAFOs were impairing water bodies as evidenced by the high number of streams impaired by fecal coliform bacteria, shellfish bed closures, complaints from citizens and Tribes, and EPA's own observations and supporting sampling data. EPA and the State believed that the State law was lacking sufficient resources to properly implement the CAFO program. Moreover, the State of Washington faced the issue of unavailable resources "head on" and stated that its CAFO management program was in fact lacking in several areas.
EPA initiated a CAFO effort with Washington State to support and supplement the State's. During the course of EPA efforts, the Washington State Dairy Federation, in conjunction with EPA found that a number of dairy farmers were unclear as to which management practices would result in violations. The Washington State Dairy Federation decided that a pictorial review (Dairy Waste Pictorial) of various waste management problems that were found on dairy farms would be beneficial. EPA found that the brochure was instrumental in creating support for the dairy waste compliance efforts. Throughout this process, EPA maintained close contact and communications with the Washington Dairy Federation, the Lummi and Nooksack Indian Tribes, the NRCS, and the Washington State Department of Ecology.
The response by the public to EPA's Washington State CAFO efforts has been very positive. Newspaper articles indicate support of EPA's efforts. For example, dairy operators as well as the Washington Dairy Federation representatives interviewed and quoted by local newspapers and in discussion with us have characterized EPA's program, and in particular the inspection and enforcement aspects, as being timely and appropriate and fair. EPA believes this popular response is due to the fact that a significant percentage of the dairy operators are in fact putting forth efforts necessary to properly operate their facilities. They are concerned with the dairies that are not good environmental stewards.
Subsequently, the Washington Dairy Federation, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Washington Department of Agriculture, EPA, and other parties collaborated in successfully strengthening the State law which has provided additional resources for Washington State's dairy waste management program. The environmental gains by the initiative can be measured by anecdotal information. For example, after EPA's efforts began, a local office of the NRCS reported an increase of requests for assistance by dairy operators from about three per month to approximately 50. The local construction contractors servicing dairies also reported a dramatic increase in requests for services. The public involvement and awareness with this environmental issue has also increased.
Unlike Washington State, the State of Idaho is not an authorized NPDES State. Accordingly, the EPA has the authority for NPDES program administration. As part of Region 10's Idaho program administration EPA negotiated a precedential agreement with the Idaho Dairymen Association, Idaho Department of Agriculture, and the Idaho State Division of Environmental Quality. Pursuant to this agreement, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture now conducts inspections of dairies on behalf of EPA.
This agreement utilizes the already existing State sanitary milk inspection program and incorporates the dairy waste inspection component. In addition, under this agreement Idaho suggested that the existing authority of the Idaho Department of Agriculture to suspend milk licenses and/or downgrade milk be extended to cover dairy manure management problems through a State regulatory modification. When appropriate, these actions can be immediately implemented.
As a result of this arrangement, the number of dairy waste inspections has significantly increased. Moreover, because the two types of inspections are conducted at once, the dairy operators are less inconvenienced. Although it is too early to gauge the overall success of this agreement, in terms of environmental protection, the results thus far are very encouraging.