BALTIMORE, MD (December 31, 2008) – The Maryland Department of the Environment announced that on January 2, 2009, a notice of “final determination” for a general permit and the notice of final action on regulations related to discharges from animal feeding operations (AFOs) will be published in the Maryland Register. The permit and regulations, for the first time, require discharge permits for large poultry operations and will ensure that Maryland’s largest poultry producers are implementing controls necessary to properly manage poultry litter and minimize nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. The proposed permit, along with the proposed regulations, would bring approximately 50 percent of the state’s poultry litter under MDE regulation.
Through a series of public stakeholder meetings, both before and after the draft permit was issued, MDE considered changes to the permit provisions and incorporated numerous suggestions to improve nutrient management of large poultry operations. Three public meetings in March were followed by three public hearings held in November, where MDE received formal testimony.
The regulations take effect on January 12, 2009. The general permit will be final as of January 21, 2009. The general permit, a fact sheet, and more information are available online at: http://mde.maryland.gov/programs/land/RecyclingandOperationsprogram/Pages/AFOInfo.aspx
The following is a joint statement from MDE Deputy Secretary Bob Summers and Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Deputy Secretary Buddy Hance:
MDE received and reviewed comments from many different stakeholders on this key component of Maryland’s full-scale effort to clean up the Bay: controlling nutrients created by our State’s large animal feeding operations.
The final permit and regulations reflect improvements based on comments from farmers, environmental advocates, and other stakeholders, and they represent an approach that is manageable and affordable while still protecting the Chesapeake Bay and our drinking water.
Since December 2007, when MDE in conjunction with MDA published the first draft of the permit, State officials have been talking to the agricultural community about how to best address excess nutrients from animal manure, including poultry litter, to protect the Chesapeake Bay while maintaining sustainable agriculture. Three well-attended public meetings and many other smaller meetings were held, and many verbal and written comments were received. These suggestions enabled the revised draft permit, published in September 2008, to protect water quality and address environmental concerns in a way that is manageable for farmers. The final permit has been revised to incorporate additional comments received during formal public hearings held in November 2008. MDE and MDA appreciate the thoughtful input received from many Maryland citizens, including the expertise of farmers, over the course of the permit development process. It has resulted in a much better final product.
This new permit and regulations to control nutrients from our largest agricultural animal operations is a significant step forward in protecting the Chesapeake Bay, local waterways, and our drinking water. It is one part of a comprehensive, State-wide effort targeting all sources of pollution: stormwater runoff, wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, industrial toxics, and air emissions.