CAFO Permit Overview

The proposed CAFO permit has two options: A combined federal/state permit (if there are surface water discharges) and a state-only groundwater permit. Dairies with fewer than 200 mature cows would be exempt. All dairies with lagoons are presumed to be dischargers and would need one of the permits.

Requirements for either permit would include:

  1. Fall and spring soil tests
  2. Daily/weekly inspection of systems (including in-ground portions)
  3. Manure pollution prevention plan
  4. Provide an engineering assessment on lagoons (within two years of permit issuance)
  5. 100-foot buffer (from waters/wetlands) of no spreading of nutrients or use of a 35-foot vegetated buffer
  6. Manure testing
  7. Public disclosure of reports
  8. Limits on nutrient application
  9. Other requirements

While the state or combined permits would provide some degree of protection in the face of lawsuits, the preliminary estimate of compliance are extremely high:

  • Estimated costs to a 300-acre western Washington farm, with 10 percent loss (corn) due to buffers from any waters of the state, equals $36,000/year.
  • Estimated costs to a 1000-acre eastern Washington farm, with 10 percent loss (corn/triticale rotation), equals $185,000/year.