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E-M:/ Sierra Club comments on Michigan NPDES General Permit for CAFOs

Sierra Club has submitted our 44 pages of comments on the proposed Michigan CAFO permit today, in time for the deadline. Below is the summary of our comments, and I will be happy to email a copy of the full comments to any who wish.

I understand from the DEQ that they have gotten an avalanche of comments today, the deadline for the permit comments, although they still claim they will have the review and decision completed by December 16th, when the new federal rules come out.

Anne Woiwode


This section summarizes the Sierra Club's comments on the proposed general
permit for CAFOs in Michigan.  As will be discussed further below, the draft
permit and supporting materials should be amended as follows:


Individual permits are needed to account for variations in site conditions.
Every CAFO presents unique circumstances, including size, type of livestock,
topography and soil types.  At a minimum, all large CAFOs with 1,000 animal
units or more should be required to obtain individual permits.

General CAFO Permits are illegal under the Clean Water Act.  CAFOs are
"point sources" subject to the Clean Water Act permit requirement.  CAFOs do
not meet the requirements established by EPA for categories or subcategories
of point sources that could be appropriately regulated with general permits.

General Permits inhibit public participation. General Permits deprive local
communities of the opportunity to comment on the need for site-specific
controls of individual CAFOs.  Instead, the General Permit process merely
provides the opportunity to comment generally on the minimum requirements
for CAFOs once every five years.  This limitation hinders effective public
participation in contravention of the policies of the Clean Water Act.

General Permits fail to take a watershed approach/study cumulative impact.
The statewide General Permit scheme effectively discourages sound analysis
of the cumulative environmental impacts of multiple CAFOs. We recommend the
addition of a provision to require watershed-based General Permits for
impaired waters.


All Animal Feeding Operations that meet the Clean Water Act definition of a
CAFO must be required to obtain a NPDES permit. 
The draft permit unlawfully
limits the requirement to obtain coverage to facilities that have had a
verified discharge in the past. Because all CAFOs, or at least all large
CAFOs, have the potential to discharge, they should all be required to
obtain permit coverage.

The General Permit's scope of coverage must be expanded to include
medium-sized CAFOs.  
The Clean Water Act definition of a CAFO includes
animal feeding operations with 301 to 1000 animal units that have the
potential discharge via a man-made ditch, flushing system or similar
man-made device, or directly into waterways that originate outside of and
pass over, access, or through the facility or otherwise come into direct
contact with the animals confined in the operation.  Such medium-sized CAFOs
also must be required to obtain NPDES permit coverage.

The General Permit should require CAFOs to implement Best Available
Technology (BAT) to control pollution.
       The permitting of CAFOs should encourage and support the use of
alternative technologies that provide superior protection for water quality,
groundwater, air quality and human health.

       Best available technology (BAT) for all aspects of CAFO operations must be
required, including requirements for synthetically lined wastewater storage
structures and consideration of sewage treatment technologies.

       Michigan should ban new lagoons and phase-out the use of existing lagoons.

The General Permit requirements should be improved.

       A complete application under the CAFO permit must include a complete,
final comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP), which the MDEQ should
retain in order to monitor compliance.

       The General Permit should improve requirements for monitoring of CAFOs.

       The General Permit should improve requirements for land application
activities not undertaken by the permittee.

       The General Permit should include a clearer and more complete definitions

       The General Permit should require co-permitting of integrators.

       The Final Determination should be amended to require all CAFOs to come
under MAEAP sooner.


Anne Woiwode, Staff Director, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48906
517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108  anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org
visit the Mackinac Chapter on the web at

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