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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

California Dairy Quality Assurance Program

The Challenge

California is the nation's biggest producer of dairy products. The state's dairy cows generate about 30 million tons of manure annually – nearly a ton for every person in the state. Manure, if improperly managed on a dairy farm, can pollute streams and groundwater, killing fish and contaminating drinking water sources. For example, the Chino Basin Dairy Preserve sits atop one of the largest groundwater basins in California, and has the highest density of cows in the world. The groundwater basin is contaminated with salts, believed to be at least partially due to the many years of applying liquid manure to the land.

The Solution

In September 1999, EPA's Pacific Southwest Region signed the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) partnership agreement joining other federal and state agencies, the University of California, and the dairy industry in promoting a healthy environment through improved farm practices. By partnering with these groups, EPA is striving to maintain the economic benefits of dairies in California, while ensuring regulatory compliance.

EPA also takes enforcement actions against dairies which violate the Clean Water Act. The CDQAP, however, provides a voluntary forum to help dairy producers prevent water pollution.

To support the efforts of the CDQAP, EPA has contributed approximately $444,000 to fund an environmental education course and subsequent on-site evaluations for dairy operators. These steps are necessary to become certified through the program. Certification requires dairy producers to first complete the environmental education course, develop a waste management plan, and finally have their facility evaluated by a third party according to standards set by the CDQAP. This unique collaborative effort, which is strongly supported by the California dairy industry, acknowledges and assists the vast majority of dairy producers who are seeking to "do the right thing."

The Results

To date, over 1100 dairy operators (out of about 2,000 dairies statewide) have completed the entire environmental education 3-part course. Third party evaluations are currently underway and over 120 facilities have received certification under the program.

Contacts

Additional information about the CDQAP can be found on EPA Region 9's Animal Waste site or by contacting:

Enrique Manzanilla (manzanilla.enrique@epa.gov)
US EPA
415-972-3843

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