The government agency has taken an active interest in scrutinizing livestock operations in Iowa — looking for cattle/hog operations that the agency believes need national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permits because of the potential for manure discharges.

Small plane flyovers have occurred with follow-up visits from EPA officials. In addition, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), at the urging of EPA, has proposed rules to implement federal NPDES permit procedures for Iowa confinement operations.

But Iowa Pork Producers Association legal counsel Eldon McAfee says the law is quite clear on livestock operations in the state that require NPDES permits. Included in the law:

  • Iowa confinement operations cannot discharge manure by Iowa law.
  • Open feedlot operations with an NPDES permit must be designed and operated to contain a 25-year, 24-hour storm, but can discharge runoff from a larger precipitation event.
  • Under both Iowa and federal law, accidental discharges do not require an NPDES permit provided that the conditions that caused the discharge change or the problem is corrected. Depending on the nature of the accidental discharge, producers may have to pay a penalty.

McAfee, with the Des Moines law firm of Beving, Swanson and Forrest, maintains that despite EPA’s enforcement actions, confined livestock operations in Iowa do not require an NPDES permit.

“I continue to question how a discharge permit can be required for confinement operations when Iowa law prohibits confinement operations from discharging,” he asserts.

“Even though the Iowa DNR has proposed NPDES rules and EPA is visiting livestock operations in Iowa, Iowa confinement producers need to know nothing has changed in regard to state or federal law regarding permitting requirements for their livestock operations,” McAfee states.

By summer, the Iowa Environ-mental Protection Commission is expected to finalize state DNR NPDES permit rules that will mirror federal EPA NPDES permit rules for confinement operations.