This website provides information and links to help farmers, citizens, local officials, and other interested parties understand the regulations and permitting requirements for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Ohio.
The livestock production industry has undergone a trend in recent decades toward consolidation of smaller livestock operations into fewer but larger operations. These larger operations tend to be more specialized and have more intense production cycles. Some have insufficient crop and pasture lands available to spread the manure and wastewater generated. The potential for water quality impacts from pollutant discharges at such facilities has led to changes in regulations and permitting programs to better protect waterways and drinking water supplies in Ohio and across the country. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and Ohio EPA have updated the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations and requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to control spills and runoff of nutrients and other pollutants from these operations.
Is my livestock operation a CAFO?
To be considered a CAFO, a livestock operation must first be considered an animal feeding operation, or AFO. If your livestock operation confines animals for at least 45 days in a 12-month period in an area where grass or other vegetation is not maintained during the normal growing season, then it is probably an AFO.
Next, an AFO must meet certain criteria to be considered a CAFO. There are three CAFO size categories: Large CAFOs, Medium CAFOs, and Small CAFOs. Each category has its own criteria defining which operations are considered to be CAFOs. You can find more information on the CAFO definitions and criteria in the fact sheet Ohio EPA NPDES Permit, Part I - General Overview of New Federal Regulations [PDF 80K]. All AFOs that meet the criteria for one of the CAFO size categories are regulated under the NPDES permitting program.
Do I need a CAFO NPDES permit?
If you are a large or medium CAFO that discharges or proposes to discharge, you need a CAFO NPDES permit. A CAFO proposes to discharge if it is designed, constructed, operated or maintained such that a discharge will occur. It must be noted that there is no exemption for large storm events, and that land application field discharges may trigger NPDES requirements. For more information and suggestions for conducting an objective evaluation, see U.S. EPA's "Implementation Guidance on CAFO Regulations - CAFOs that Discharge or Are Proposing to Discharge ".
CAFO General Information
Ohio's Surface Water Permitting Laws and Rules
The following is a list of Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) chapters related to the Division of Surface Water's CAFO Permitting Program:
- OAC Chapter 3745-1, Water Quality Standards. Water quality standards for surface waters of the state. This page also provides links to the rules for Water Body Use Designations, including which water bodies are designated as State Resource Waters.
- OAC Chapter 3745-33, Ohio NPDES Permits. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program. Provides permitting requirements for municipal and industrial discharges to waters of the state.
- Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6111, Water Pollution Control. Specifies the powers of Ohio EPA with respect to water pollution control.
Ohio's CAFO NPDES Program
You can find general information about Ohio EPA's CAFO NPDES permit program in the following fact sheets:
- Ohio EPA CAFO NPDES Permit - General Overview of Federal Regulations [PDF 220K]
- Ohio EPA CAFO NPDES Permit - What Is It and How To Get One? [PDF 28K]
Ohio's NPDES program for CAFOs incorporates the requirements of U.S. EPA's CAFO regulations under the Clean Water Act. You can use the links below to find out more about the federal CAFO requirements.
- U.S. EPA's CAFO rule page contains fact sheets with general information and links to the text of the federal regulations.
- The Producers' Compliance Guide for CAFOs contains additional information on how to comply with the federal regulations.
CAFOs and Ohio's Water Quality
Of the 257,000 animal feeding operations in the United States today, about 15,500 are CAFOs. There are about 150 large CAFOs in Ohio. A number of smaller operations have also applied for coverage under NPDES CAFO permits. These operations generate manure, litter and process wastewater, which can contain pollutants like nitrogen, phosphorus, metals and bacteria. If CAFO operators do not manage these materials properly, they could release pollutants into the environment through spills, overflows or runoff. These releases, in turn, might pollute surface waters and threaten the health of people and animals. On the other hand, when operators manage manure, litter and process wastewater properly, they help to prevent water pollution and its negative impacts.
Organic enrichment and low dissolved oxygen, sediment and siltation, nutrients, pathogens, metals and ammonia are among the leading causes of water quality impairment in Ohio. Discharges and polluted runoff from CAFOs can contribute to the water quality impacts caused by these pollutants.
Ohio EPA's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program focuses on identifying and restoring polluted rivers, streams, lakes and other surface water bodies. A TMDL includes an assessment of water quality problems in a water body and contributing sources of pollution.
CAFO NPDES Permits in Ohio
Ohio EPA currently issues only individual NPDES permits to CAFOs. Use the links below to find information on the NPDES permits issued to CAFOs in Ohio.
Individual CAFO Permits
|Permit Number||Facility Name||County|
|0IK00011||Harrison Ethanol LLC||Harrison|
|0IK00012||Wallick Poultry 1-2-3||Tuscarawas|
|0IK00013||Wallick Poultry 4-5-6||Tuscarawas|
|1IK00001||Ohio Heifer Center||Clark|
|2IK00009||Wenning Poultry Farm||Mercer|
|2IK00017||Gina Dairy LLC||Van Wert|
|2IK00031||Trillium Farm Holdings, Layer Site 6||Wyandot|
|2IK00032||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Layer Site 5||Hardin|
|2IK00033||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Goshen Pullet Site||Hardin|
|2IK00058||Falling Star Farm LLC||Ashland|
|2IK00255||Strong Farms Hicksville Farm||Defiance|
|3IK00013||Paradise Valley Farms||Stark|
|3IN00314||Northfield Park Association||Summit|
|4IK00005||New Day Farms, LLC-Mad River Facility||Union|
|4IK00014||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Layer Site 1||Licking|
|4IK00015||New Day Farms, Croton||Licking|
|4IK00016||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Layer Site 3||Licking|
|4IK00017||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Layer Site 4||Licking|
|4IK00018||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Pullet Site 1||Licking|
|4IK00019||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Pullet Site 2||Licking|
|4IK00020||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Breeder Layer 2||Licking|
|4IK00021||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Pullet Site 3||Licking|
|4IK00023||Trillium Farm Holdings LLC, Hatchery Breeder Pullet||Licking|
|4IK00027||Gill Dairy LLC||Madison|
|4IK00032||New Day Farms, LLC-Farm 3 Facility||Union|
CAFO Permit Requirements
NPDES permits contain specific requirements for CAFO operations, including requirements for the production area (where animals are confined and where wastes and raw materials are stored) and land application area (land under the control of the CAFO where manure or wastewater is spread). In general, the permit requirements include the following:
- CAFOs may not discharge pollutants, except under certain circumstances.
- Every CAFO must develop and implement a manure management plan that specifies best management practices for manure and wastewater handling and disposal which complies with the NPDES permit.
- Every CAFO must conduct inspections and monitoring and keep records.
- Every CAFO must submit an annual report to Ohio EPA.
Parts I, A and VII of the NPDES permit contains many of the technical standards that CAFOs must comply with.
Click on the links below to find out more about the requirements of NPDES permits for CAFOs:
Check U.S. EPA's NPDES CAFO rule page for a fact sheet series that provides general information on federal permit requirements for specific livestock sectors.
How to Apply for a CAFO Permit
To apply for coverage under an NPDES CAFO permit, you must complete the appropriate forms by the specified deadlines and submit them to Ohio EPA with the application fee and a complete manure management plan.
Mail the forms, application fee and manure management plan to:
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Division of Surface Water
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, OH 43216-1049
A check for $200.00 made payable to the Treasurer of the State of Ohio must be submitted along with the application forms and plan.
To apply for a CAFO NPDES permit from Ohio EPA, you must submit the following completed forms to the Ohio EPA Central Office:
- NPDES Form 1 Application and Instructions
- NPDES Form 2B Application
- Ohio EPA Antidegradation Addendum [PDF] or [Word fillable]
To be considered complete, the application must also include a manure management plan that complies with the permit.
The deadlines for applying for an NPDES CAFO permit depend on when the CAFO began or will begin operating.
- New sources (i.e., operations for which the construction began after April 13, 2003) must submit an application for coverage under a permit by no later than 180 days prior to commencing operation.
- Where the operator of a CAFO that is covered by a permit changes and the new operator wishes to have the existing permit coverage transferred, the new and current operators of the facility must complete and send to Ohio EPA a Transfer of Responsibility form in accordance with the requirements of the general permit at least 60 days prior to the change.
- Applications to renew existing NPDES permits must be submitted to Ohio EPA at least 180 days before the expiration date of the existing permit.
For additional explanation of the application deadlines and permit application process, check Ohio EPA's Fact Sheet OHIO EPA CAFO NPDES Permit, What Is It, and How To Get One?
CAFO Compliance Information
Getting covered under an NPDES permit is just the first step in complying with the NPDES regulations for CAFOs. Once you are covered, you have to comply with the conditions and requirements of the permit. Ohio EPA's Division of Surface Water operates an Enforcement and Compliance Program to provide technical assistance, conduct inspections, investigate complaints and, where necessary, take enforcement actions to help protect surface waters of the state from pollution.
Once you have received coverage under an individual permit, you are responsible for complying with the requirements and conditions in the permit, including the following:
- Performance standards
Operation and management practices
Monitoring and reporting
Land application requirements
Reporting Spills and Discharges
If you have or witness a spill or accidental discharge that could endanger the environment or public health, it is important to contact Ohio EPA as soon as possible. (NPDES permits require that such discharges be reported within 24 hours.) A statewide toll-free number is available 24 hours a day to report spills and other environmental emergencies: Ohio EPA's Spill Hotline: 1-800-282-9378
You must follow the procedures outlined in your NPDES permit to report nonemergency discharges and other instances of noncompliance with permit conditions.
You are also responsible for maintaining your permit coverage for as long as your facility operates as a CAFO. NPDES permits typically have an effective period of 5 years. You must submit a permit renewal application to Ohio EPA at least 180 days prior to the expiration date of your permit.
You can get help in complying with your NPDES permit from a variety of sources. Follow the links below to find out about some sources of financial and technical assistance available.
Ohio EPA offers a Small Business Compliance Assistance to help small businesses understand and comply with environmental regulations.
Section 319 of the Clean Water Act establishes a national program to control nonpoint source pollution. Ohio EPA is responsible for administering Ohio's 319 Grant Program. Since 1990 more than 225 state and local nonpoint source projects throughout Ohio have been supported, representing an investment of approximately $40 million of federal, state and local funds.
Ohio EPA's Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) provides financial and technical assistance for a wide variety of actions to protect or improve the quality of Ohio's rivers, streams, lakes and other water resources. The WPCLF offers assistance opportunities for both public and private entities.
The Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) — Linked Deposit Program is a mechanism for financing certain WPCLF projects. Instead of borrowing directly from the WPCLF, the applicant receives a linked deposit loan from a private lending institution. The below-market interest rate for the loan is supported by a WPCLF-funded certificate of deposit with the lender.
Financial assistance is available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Check U.S. EPA's Producers' Compliance Guide for CAFOs, Chapter 6. What is the Compliance Assurance Process? for information on additional sources of assistance.
Inspections and Enforcement
Ohio EPA routinely conducts unannounced inspections of livestock operations to evaluate compliance. Ohio EPA inspectors may arrive at a facility without prior notice, and Ohio Revised Code 6111.05 authorizes Ohio EPA inspectors to enter private or public property at reasonable times to inspect or investigate conditions and potentially to collect samples of any discharges.
Ohio EPA generally inspects livestock operations for one of two reasons:
- To determine whether a facility is a CAFO and must obtain an NPDES permit
- To determine whether a permitted facility is in compliance with the conditions of its NPDES permit.
If Ohio EPA discovers a violation of permit conditions or applicable environmental laws, it may take one of a number of enforcement actions, ranging from issuing a notice of violation (NOV) (a letter that explains the problem and how to correct it) to conducting a criminal investigation. The enforcement action taken depends on factors such as the seriousness of the violation and the facility's compliance history. For the most serious violators, possible penalties include imprisonment and fines of up to $25,000 per day of violation.
Ohio EPA's Fact Sheet Ohio EPA Livestock Operation Inspections - What to Expect [PDF 86K] explains what to expect if Ohio EPA inspects your CAFO. It covers what an inspector might look for, as well as what might happen if a violation is discovered during an inspection. The document also has suggestions on what to do if you receive an NOV and provides technical assistance contacts.
This NPDES permitting program, administered by Ohio EPA's Division of Surface Water, is designed to document construction activity and require practices that keep pollutants out of Ohio's streams.
Composting is regulated by the Ohio EPA's Division of Materials and Waste Management (DMWM). Under the solid waste composting program, composting facilities, including those composting animal waste, must obtain a registration, license, and/or permit. The program also establishes requirements regarding what types of wastes can be composted, operational requirements of the facility, and testing requirements for the finished product prior to distribution.
Ohio's Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) Program is an innovative program to protect Ohio's streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and ground waters used for public drinking water from future contamination. Building on existing environmental assessment and protection programs, the SWAP Program identifies drinking water source protection areas and provides information on how to reduce the potential for contaminating the waters within those areas.
Ohio EPA's Division of Surface Water regulates sewage systems at commercial facilities, including livestock operations. A Permit-to-Install must be obtained from Ohio EPA for the system installation or modification. The above link provides the instructions and application forms for the permit. The permit application must be submitted to the appropriate district office for review and approval. For guidance on the design of the system, please see Sewage: Collection, Treatment & Disposal Where Public Sewers Are Not Available (Green Book) (2013).
Ohio EPA's Division of Drinking and Ground Waters regulates public water systems to ensure they provide water that is safe to drink. Livestock operations that employ more than 25 employees may meet the definition of a public water system [PDF 23K] and be regulated under the Ohio EPA.
Ohio EPA's Division of Emergency and Remedial Response is a program that responds to spill reports and oversees clean-up in order to minimize the impact on the environment. This division operates the emergency spill hotline and may respond to spill reports at livestock operations for materials including oil, gasoline, fertilizer, manure, etc. When an employee from the Emergency and Remedial Response Division responds to a spill, the responsible party is billed for the investigator's time. This is not a fine or penalty.
There are two agencies and departments that regulate livestock operations in the state of Ohio:
- Ohio EPA issues permits through the NPDES CAFO permitting program described on this Web site.
- Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) issues Permits to Install (PTIs) and Permits to Operate (PTOs) through the Ohio Livestock Environmental Permitting Program. Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Soil and Water Conservation (ODA-DSWC) does not issue permits, but does administer and enforce regulations that apply to livestock operations. These regulations cover land application and utilization standards for animal manure and standards for the design and construction of manure storage and treatment facilities. Even though DSWC does not issue permits, a livestock operation might be required to obtain a permit under another program if it does not comply with ODA-DSWC's regulations.
Summary of Ohio EPA, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Natural Resources CAFO Requirements
The following table shows how the regulatory programs described above apply to CAFOs:
Type of Operation
Permit to Install (PTI)
Permit to Operate (PTO)
Medium AFO, discharges to surface water
Medium or small AFO, history of non-compliance with ODNR-DSWC's rules and standards
PTO, PTI (if facility modification is required>
Small AFO adding significant pollutants to surface waters (Designated CAFO)
If 1 or more acres will be disturbed for construction of a livestock operation
NPDES Construction Storm Water permit
(table adapted from Ohio Livestock Coalition's Guidelines for Livestock Operations)>
Ohio Livestock Coalition's Guidelines for Livestock Operations provides more detailed information on how these three agencies regulate livestock operations in Ohio.
- Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS develops agricultural standards for best management practices that relate to lagoon construction, manure management, wetland design, etc. These Conservation Practice Standards are listed in the Field Office Technical Guide. Several of Ohio EPA's CAFO NPDES permit requirements are based on these standards.
The following agencies and organizations also administer programs that might be of interest to CAFO operators.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) Animal Feeding Operations page - provides resources to help animal feeding operations "to achieve their production and natural resource conservation goals through development and implementation of comprehensive nutrient management plans."
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's NPDES CAFO Program - provides information and guidance documents on the federal NPDES regulations for CAFOs.