Have Your Say on Water Permits for Animal Factories
If you're worried about water pollution, see details below on how to have your say on water permits!
Our state has granted NPDES water discharge permits to 234 huge animal factory facilties, such as dairies and hog farms. These National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits are required under the Clean Water Act, and are used to set the standards for water quality that the permittee must adhere to when discharging waste water. Your local municipal waste water treatment plant is permited to discharge treated water into rivers, for example, after the water has been treated to remove impurities.
However, animal factories do not "treat" their animal waste water, other than to store it six months or longer in huge pits. Note that, "Discharges which cause or contribute to an exceedance of a water quality standard are not authorized by this permit." In other words, they're not allowed to cause pollution in the river. Yet, we know this happens all the time.
Several NPDES permits are available for public comment right now, prior to their renewal. If you live near or in the same watershed as one of the facilities listed in the table below, and if you have concerns about water quality, you can provide your comments to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
We've set up separate online forms to make it easy for you to send your comments directly to the MDEQ permit staff. See the table below, and click the link to the Great Lakes Watershed where the CAFO nearest you is located. In your comments, please include the Permit Number and Facility Name that are given below, and please remember to submit your comments by the Due Date listed in the far right column.
Written comments should be mailed to: Permits Section, Water Bureau, Department of Environmental Quality, PO Box 30273, Lansing, Michigan, 48909.
You can also check the DEQ's website to check on NPDES permits available for comment, along with all electronically-available documents, whether they're for animal factories, or any other industry. Use the pull-down boxes to select the NPDES permitting program, then select either Certificate of Coverage or Individual Permit for the permit type, and then select CAFO for the Category. Hit Search at the bottom right corner of the page, and the website will display a list of the permits currently on public notice. Click here to download the 30-page CAFO NPDES Permit (160 KB PDF format) if you want more information about what the MDEQ requires for a NPDES permit. Note MDEQ's online documents are removed from their website by midnight of the day before comments are due. (For example, if comments are due on September 1, then the online documents will disappear from the website at midnight on August 31.)
Here are the CAFO NPDES Permits currently on public notice for comments due soon.
The table is ordered by County. Click on the watershed where your county is located to make your comments.
Look here for CAFO Waste Water Discharge Permit information!