The North Carolina Environmental Management Commission (NCEMC) recently declined to adopt a proposed rule that would have required farmers to take water samples at all permitted animal operations. The North Carolina Pork Council’s Porkline e-newsletter reports the rule was initiated in 2007 by a rulemaking petition filed by the Waterkeeper Alliance.

A three-member panel of NCEMC officers held public hearings across state and reviewed hundreds of comments made by supporters and opponents of the proposed rule during a series of hearings. Following the hearings, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources directed the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) to consider a study of the proposed rule. In May 2011, the DWQ and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) finalized a contract to perform a multi-year study of possible surface water impacts related to animal operations.

At a recent NCEMC meeting, the three-member panel of hearing officers said they did not believe that the proposed monitoring rules would yield useful data that would provide a corresponding benefit to water quality. The panel recommended that the full NCEMC not adopt the proposed rules. They also recommended that the NCEMC review the results of a current study by DWQ and the USGS. If the results indicate a need for monitoring, rules could again be considered and the results of the study should be used to determine the type and frequency of monitoring needed.