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If a facility discharges pollutants without a permit, or has a permit but does not meet the permit requirements, the facility not only violates Washington law, but also violates the federal Clean Water Act. Its owner or operator could be subject to enforcement.

The Department of Ecology administers the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) rules and permit in Washington State. CAFO Permit Coordinator may be reached at (360) 407-6563.

Federal Clean Water Act and the NPDES CAFO Permit

The federal Clean Water Act created a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program to protect and improve water quality by regulating point source dischargers.  Point source dischargers are operations that discharge pollutants from discrete conveyances directly into waters of the United States.  Point source dischargers are regulated by NPDES permits.

The NPDES permit for livestock operations is called the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit. An NPDES CAFO is a no discharge permit. The permit:

  • prohibits discharges except under certain limited conditions
  • sets requirements designed to protect water quality such as management practices and recordkeeping requirements

Link to EPA CAFO Permitting Program

Washington State CAFO Permit Information

Currently, EPA delegates authority to enforce the federal CAFO rules and permit in Washington State to the Department of Ecology (ECY).  In 2003, the Legislature directed the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) to apply for CAFO delegation.  WSDA worked with stakeholders and ECY over several years on legislation to make this possible. 

In 2006, stakeholders and state agencies mutually agreed to put pursuing delegation for WSDA on hold. Instead, WSDA and ECY continue to coordinate resources.  Ecology administers, develops, and processes CAFO permits.  WSDA inspects permitted facilities and provides technical support.

CAFO PermitCoordinator (360) 407-6563Department of Ecology, Water Quality ProgramPO Box 47600, Olympia, WA  98504-7600