May 25, 2021

EPA Sued for Failure to Update Farm Wastewater Guidelines

Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA is required to annually review and strengthen by necessity effluent limitation guidelines for concentrated animal feeding operations 

wastewater-farm

On May 20, Food & Water Watch filed a lawsuit against EPA in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over the agency’s failure to update the farm wastewater guidelines as required by the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA is required to annually review and strengthen by necessity effluent limitation guidelines for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), reported National Hog Farmer.

These guidelines aim to ensure that CAFOs implement the technology and management practices necessary to reduce the amount of pollution these operations discharge into the nation’s waterways.

According to National Hog Farmer, EPA has maintained the current guidelines for over a decade without making changes. 

“We have over fifteen industrial dairies in our community, and the massive amount of waste they produce is wreaking havoc on our water resources,” said Food & Water Watch member Lynn Utesch, reported National Hog Farmer. “All three rivers running through Kewuanee County, Wisconsin are impaired with high levels of pollutants associated with CAFOs, and the burden of monitoring and responding to the problem falls on residents like us instead of the CAFO operators. EPA’s CAFO standards just don’t do enough to protect our water quality, and our community is suffering for it.”

According to National Hog Farmer, EPA’s current CAFO guidelines only apply to the largest of operations and do not regulate many of the pollutants of concern coming out of these facilities. 

According to Emily Miller, staff attorney for Food & Water Watch, this is not the first attempt to urge EPA to take further action. The organization filed a petition asking EPA to update these guidelines in 2017. EPA had not responded to that petition.

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