Rocky Mountain National Park
CLA remains front and center relative to the ongoing discussions related to ammonia deposition in Rocky Mountain National Park. Over the last 17 years, CLA has been engaged in stakeholder meetings and in research on this issue to advocate on behalf of animal agriculture.
This year, the CLA team has been working to improve our understanding of best management practices (BMPs) effectiveness at lowering ammonia emissions, costs, and challenges to adoption. After a review of the previous survey results, BMPs were identified that could benefit from further analysis of the factors that prevent or challenge adoption of BMPs for Dairies, Feedlots, and Land Management. A new survey has been developed to dig into those factors. Following a test run with a handful of members, final preparations are being made to conduct the new survey. CLA members should look forward to opportunities to participate in the survey in the near future. CLA is working to create opportunities to bring Dr. Bryan Shaw back and conduct boots on the ground surveys.
CLA continues to be a voice for animal agriculture in this conversation and an advocate for a sound science approach to assessing the situation. As well as assisting in the development of best approaches to reduce nitrogen deposition in RMNP from all sources, CLA seeks to gain recognition of the voluntary actions that Colorado Agriculture continues to take to become best stewards of the environment.
Due to COVID-19 and some changes in staffing, there has been additional development time and build out needed to take place. As part of that build out there has been robust stakeholder input, CLA has also worked closely with those in the subcommittee to identify those things that need to be pinpointed to help create that larger picture. All CLA’s partners in this effort continue to prove to be valuable in the bigger discussions as the general oversight has shifted out from under CDPHE to CDA. 2024 is poised to be a telling year for agriculture’s future, being proactive and working with the department is critical at this juncture to the longevity of the industry.
Environmental Ag Program
In 2005, Colorado Livestock Association members were instrumental in the formation of the Environmental Ag Program to the benefit of Colorado’s livestock industry. The Environmental Ag Program administers air and water quality protection regulations specific to animal feeding operations, including permitting, conducting site inspections, developing and implementing policies and regulations, providing technical assistance and initiating enforcement actions in coordination with the Air and Water Quality divisions. CLA continues to work with the Environmental Ag Program to foster a relationship based on common sense & compliance assistance rather than command and control to protect one of Colorado’s most precious resources.
Regulation 2, Part B Odor Emissions – Housed Commercial Swine Feeding Operations
Under Regulation No. 2 HCSFOs are required to develop site specific Odor Management Plans that describe how they will minimize off-site odor emissions from all aspects of their operations, from the barns where animals are raised, to their waste management systems and the fields where residual solids and wastewater are applied.
Regulation 61 Colorado Discharge Permit System
Regulation 61 assures clean water through federal law, and applies to permitted Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Housed Commercial Swine Feeding Operations.
Regulation 61 specifies the design, construction, and operation standards required for obtaining a state discharge permit that fulfills the federal NPDES requirements. Under the general CAFO permit (COA933000) and individual HCSFO permits, a discharge is only allowed during certain significant, and often catastrophic, precipitation events provided a facility has met rigorous operational and recordkeeping requirements. In 2017 CDPHE’s EAP issued the first individual CAFO permit that allows for alternative treatment to meet water quality standards for the discharge of trough overflow water.
Regulation 66 Financial Assurance Criteria HCSFOs
Regulation 66 defines what criteria HCSFOs must provide to demonstrate that they have financial resources available to cover the costs of final closure of their facilities. Regulation 66 was reviewed in August of 2020 and no changes were proposed.
Regulation 81 Animal Feeding Operations Control Regulation
All Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation’s (CAFOs) in Colorado, whether permitted or not, are required under Regulation 81 to protect Colorado’s water. Regulation No. 81 was developed to protect the state’s valuable surface and groundwater resources by minimizing the potential environmental impact from animal feeding operations of all sizes. It outlines the design requirements for registered CAFOs, groundwater protection requirements for both permitted and registered CAFOs, and the best management practices for small and medium AFOs.
Reg. 81 underwent a triennial review in 2020 during an informational briefing before the Water Quality Control Commission, where no changes were suggested or recommended. The next review will take place later this year. A new permit was issued July 2022 containing nonpoint-source effluent discharge language from Reg. 85 in an attempt to satisfy the challengers of the permit.
Additionally, there are still several items in question now that the litigation has moved from the administrative law judge’s opinion to the executive of the program.
The current General Permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (COA933000) will expire in July 2024. The new general permit (COA934000) was issued in the summer of 2022, but will stay in effect until the Executive has rendered its decision addressing the challenges. There are no changes planned for the Nutrient Management Plan Template, so current plans can be updated for the next five-year cycle.
Draft general permit COA934000 was made available for public review and comment on June 10, 2022. The Ag Program reviewed the permit as issued and provided insights. The administration amended the permit to include language regarding discharges.
Regulation 85 Nutrient Management Control Regulation
Effective September 30, 2012, this regulation was adopted as a first step to reduce the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in Colorado’s water bodies. Currently, provisions in the regulation encourage producers to voluntarily adopt best management practices that are effective and cost efficient. Stakeholders reported to the Water Quality Control Commission in May 2022. The most recent milestone for animal agriculture was a rulemaking hearing in November 2022. Agriculture demonstrated that the voluntary approach is working through the implementation of BMPs, producer education and information, monitoring programs and the evaluation of nutrient trading proposals.
10 Year Road Map
The Water Quality Control Division developed a 10-Year Water Quality Road map, which summarizes the annual activities and decision points for updates to nutrient standards as well as other parameters. The years circled in red are associated with Regulation 85, where the decision on whether nutrient regulations will need to be applied to agricultural activities.
For the full road map go here: www.colorado.gov/cdphe/WQ-10-Year-Roadmap
Solid & Hazardous Waste: Compost and Waste tires
The Colorado Livestock Association participates in stakeholder processes and rulemaking hearings with issues under the purview of the Solid and Hazardous Waste Commission on a regular basis.
As a direct result of CLA’s participation in the stakeholder process to make changes to Section 14 of Colorado’s Solid Waste regulations regarding the composting rules, livestock operations remain exempt. The CDPHE Solid and Hazardous Waste Division regulates the processing and use of waste tires according to Section 10 of Colorado’s Solid Waste Regulation. Agricultural producers re-purpose waste tires in numerous ways that are beneficial to the environment. CLA continues to be involved in discussions surrounding regulation of the use and reuse of waste tires on ag operations.
‘Agricultural Waste’ Definition
When the CDPHE SHWD proposed changes to the definition of “agricultural waste” and “environmental media” CLA’s Natural Resources Committee members requested a stakeholder meeting to voice agriculture’s concerns. As a result of the discussion, changes were made to the proposal that agriculture producers supported.