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Important Discharge Permit Deadline for Operators of Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs)

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

By Sarah Everhart

Side profile of cows (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

This post does not constitute legal advice.

Operators and owners of AFOs need to be aware that the new General Discharge Permit (NPDES # MDG01, State Discharge Permit #14AF) for AFOs that discharge to waters of the State became effective December 1, 2014. The new permit is a revised version of the previously issued AFO General Discharge Permit issued December 1, 2009. All large and medium AFOs that discharge to waters of the State must be covered under the General Discharge permit. Use this AFO size chart to determine if your animal feeding operation is small, medium or large:

White barns with fans on them (Photo by University of Kentucky).

A small AFO is not required to be covered under the General Discharge Permit unless the Maryland Department of the Environment “MDE” or the Environmental Protection Agency “EPA”specifically designates the operation as having the potential to discharge a pollutant into a waterway. If so designated, then a small AFO would also need to be covered by the General Discharge Permit. Maryland requires a General Discharge Permit to prevent nutrients from Maryland’s largest agricultural animal operations from entering local waterways.

Current AFOs registered under the current General Discharge Permit should have notified MDE by September 30, 2014, that they intended to renew their coverage under the new General Discharge permit. Providing this notice to MDE extends the Permit’s coverage. If an operator or owner provided the notice by September 30 this year, the next step is submitting a new Notice of Intention “NOI” as soon as possible but no later than January 30, 2015.

Baby chicks in a plastic cage (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

However, if an operator or owner failed to give MDE notice that they intended to review their coverage under the General Discharge permit by September 30, 2014, their coverage lapsed as of November 30, 2014, and they are in violation of the regulations. To rectify this loss of coverage, operators and owners should immediately submit a new NOI as soon as possible but no later than January 30, 2015.

If an operator or owner knows they will not be operating their AFO after November 30, 2014, and will not need the coverage of the General Discharge permit, they should notify MDE that that they will not need the permit by January 30, 2015.

The forms to use to submit a new NOI or notify MDE (whether or not you need coverage) and other information on AFO discharge permitting can be found on MDE’s website at:

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