Availability of Amended National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Operation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (PAG-12)
[50 Pa.B. 6060]
[Saturday, October 31, 2020]
The Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is announcing the availability of a final amended National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Operation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (PAG-12) that will take effect January 1, 2021. To access the amended General Permit and related documents, visit www.depgreenport.state.pa.us/elibrary/ (select ''Permit and Authorization Packages,'' then ''Clean Water,'' then ''PAG-12 NPDES General Permit for Operation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations 3800-PM-BCW0032,'' then ''2021 Amended PAG-12 NPDES General Permit'').
The PAG-12 General Permit is intended to provide NPDES permit coverage to persons operating Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) within this Commonwealth in satisfaction of State and Federal NPDES permit requirements, as established in 25 Pa. Code Chapter 92a (relating to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting, monitoring and compliance), where such CAFOs meet the eligibility requirements of the PAG-12 General Permit.
On March 31, 2018, the Department published notice of the availability of a final General Permit (2018 General Permit) at 48 Pa.B. 1898 (March 31 2018), with an effective date of April 1, 2018, and an expiration date of March 31, 2023. Since reissuance of the 2018 General Permit, the Department has become aware of several modifications that are necessary to correct errors and reduce administrative burdens associated with the 2018 General Permit. A description of the modifications to the amendment of the General Permit are as follows:
• Coverage Expiration Date—A specific expiration date is identified on the coverage approval page of the amended General Permit. This date coincides with the expiration date of the master PAG-12 General Permit. All coverage under the amended General Permit expires on the same date. CAFOs are expected to submit a timely Notice of Intent (NOI) for continuation of coverage under a reissued General Permit prior to expiration of their existing coverage. The Department will provide information on what will be expected of CAFOs for future permit coverage at a later date.
• Annual Report Serving as NOI—Under the 2018 General Permit, CAFO Annual Reports were considered NOIs to continue coverage under the General Permit. The Department chose to utilize this CAFO Annual Report/NOI arrangement in an effort to reduce administrative burden while ensuring that permitted CAFOs continue to be eligible for coverage. In the Department's experience since the 2018 General Permit was issued, the CAFO Annual Report/NOI arrangement has not reduced administrative burden as intended. In addition, members of the public have expressed confusion over the role and function of CAFO Annual Reports. The amended General Permit no longer considers CAFO Annual Reports as NOIs. Permittees authorized to operate under the PAG-12 General Permit will continue to submit CAFO Annual Reports under Part A.III.D. However, as of the effective amendment date of the amended General Permit (that is, January 1, 2021), the Department will no longer consider the CAFO Annual Report as an NOI. The submission of a timely and complete NOI acknowledging coverage under the amended General Permit is required by January 1, 2021.
• Removal of Automatic Expiration of Coverage Language—The 2018 General Permit specified that failure to submit the CAFO Annual Report and the annual NOI installment fee payment by the due date constituted an expiration of coverage. The Department has determined that this language reduces the Department's discretion, produces an administrative burden, and is no longer necessary with the change to the role and function of the CAFO Annual Report as previously explained. The amended General Permit clarifies that failure to submit the CAFO Annual Report and the annual NOI installment fee payment may result in enforcement action or revocation of coverage. The Department will continue to take necessary enforcement action in the event a permittee fails to submit timely CAFO Annual Reports or annual NOI installment fee payments.
• Daily Water Line Inspections—The 2018 General Permit included a requirement from Federal regulations at 40 CFR 412.37 (relating to additional measures) that operations with at least 700 mature dairy cows or 1,000 cattle, or both, other than mature dairy cows and veal calves must inspect water lines daily, including drinking water or cooling water lines, for the presence of leaks. The 2018 General Permit inadvertently omitted other types of operations that must conduct daily water line inspections under Federal regulations. Those operations include all Large CAFOs except those with sheep, lambs, horses or ducks. This omission is corrected in the amended General Permit.
The Department has amended the 2018 General Permit as previously described. The amended General Permit will be effective beginning January 1, 2021, through the remainder of the current permit term. An NOI to remain covered under the amended General Permit will be due by the effective amendment date of the amended General Permit (that is, January 1, 2021). The Department will publish notice of the receipt of NOIs in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and will publish notice when actions are taken by the Department to approve or deny a CAFO's coverage under the amended General Permit.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 20-1493. Filed for public inspection October 30, 2020, 9:00 a.m.]
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