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February 24, 2010Client Alert

WDNR Issues CAFO WPDES General Permit for Public Comment

Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (“WDNR”) issued for public comment long-awaited general permits (“GP”) for its concentrated animal feeding operation (“CAFO”) Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“WPDES”) permit program. Wisconsin already has among the most rigorous CAFO permitting standards in the nation and is the last state to issue GPs for its CAFO program. WDNR’s public notice, issued on February 19, 2010, proposed the issuance of two GPs – one for large CAFOs (1000-5720 animal units) and one for small and medium CAFOs (less than 1000 animal units). For a facility of any size subject to WPDES permitting, WDNR retains the right to issue an individual permit if the circumstances so require.

An applicant for a CAFO GP will be required to submit the same information currently required for a CAFO individual permit; however, WDNR’s goal in issuing GPs is to help streamline the WPDES permitting process for CAFOs. The main streamlining component of the general permit is that WDNR will not be required to perform an individual environmental assessment (“EA”) prior to granting facility coverage under the GP - instead, a comprehensive EA has been completed and public noticed along with the two proposed GPs. All of the documents associated with the GPs can be found here. A list of the scheduled public hearings on the GPs is included below.

With assistance from Michael Best, the Dairy Business Association of Wisconsin (“DBA”) has worked with WDNR since 2008 to make WPDES permit streamlining a priority. The proposed GP itself is just one result of the Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement in Principle negotiated and executed between DBA, WDNR and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in May 2009.

Hearings on the proposed GPs are set for the following dates and locations; all hearings begin at 1:00 p.m.:

March 26, 2010 - Wausau
Northcentral Technical College, Center for the Health Sciences Building Auditorium, 1000 West Campus Drive

April 1, 2010 - Grand Chute
Grand Chute Town Hall, Board Room, 1900 Grand Chute Boulevard

April 6, 2010 - Viroqua
Firehouse Restaurant and Lounge, Lower Level, 804 South Main Street

April 8, 2010 - Eau Claire
Ramada Inn Convention Center, Lower Ballroom, 205 South Barstow Street

April 13, 2010 - Fitchburg
Fitchburg Community Center, Oak Hall, 5520 Lacy Road

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