Ag producers can work with Kentucky Division of Water to comply with regulations
The Kentucky Division of Water may contact you for a variety of reasons. The division’s mission is “to manage, protect and enhance the quality and quantity of the commonwealth’s water resources for present and future generations through voluntary, regulatory and educational programs.”
With oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Kentucky Division of Water carries out its objectives through permitting and educational outreach. The division’s oversight in the following areas may impact water quality: wastewater treatment, construction, oil and gas, drinking water treatment, groundwater, agriculture, coal extraction, streams and floodplains, etc.
One of the duties of the division is to regulate agricultural entities. If you are a livestock producer, you may get visits from the division staff for one of two reasons. The first is if someone makes a complaint. Some of the more common complaints are cattle overgrazing, improper manure application and improper management of mortalities. When someone makes a complaint, an inspector is required to make a site visit. The Division of Water always tries to make contact with the farmer prior to an inspection.
The second reason the division may contact you is about permit issues. If you have a permit, such as a Kentucky No Discharge Operational Permit (KNDOP); and it is time for a routine inspection, the division will contact you. Dairy and hog facilities are the main holders of this permit type. If you have a liquid waste handling system, state law requires you to obtain this permit, regardless of the size of your operation. This is a general permit, which means that they all expire at the same time and the permit holder is responsible for renewing the authorization. The most current KNDOP expired in February 2016. The permit application is called short form B and you can find it online at http://dep.ky.gov/formslibrary/Documents/KPDESSHORTFORMBandInstructionsFeb09.pdf.
Once you apply for the permit, the Division of Water can conduct a visit to make sure your farm is in compliance with state regulations. When the inspector is ready to make a farm visit, they will contact you to schedule a visit.
If the visit is related to a complaint, the inspector will start by investigating the issue and will look for other problems that could cause water contamination.
If you have a KNDOP, the inspector will focus on the main part of the operation such as the waste source (i.e. barns), waste lagoons and surrounding production areas, although they do have the option to inspect the entire farm. You may have to produce information such as an up-to-date Ag Water Quality Plan, nutrient management plan, soil sample results, records of mortalities and a copy of the facility’s KNDOP, if you have one. Any livestock producer with 10 or more acres of land must have an agriculture water quality plan. If you have animals in confinement or if you apply waste to farmland, you will need a nutrient management plan as well.
Two examples of liquid waste systems include lagoons and manure pits. After a document review, the inspector will tour your facility and observe all aspects of the operation related to water quality. Some common findings on farm visits often include lagoons without proper storage capacity, silage leachate and improper disposal of milking operation wastewater.
If inspectors find problems relating to Kentucky Division of Water regulations, the next steps might include taking corrective action to achieve compliance with the law.
There are three different types of corrective actions.
• Letter of Warning – First offense.
• Notice of Violation – Occurs when there is little or no response to the letter of warning.
• Enforcement Referral – Pattern of non-compliance or major offense.
The division wants to work with you to make sure you are in compliance with your permits and your agriculture water quality plan.
If you receive a corrective action, it’s important to not ignore the notice. Your cooperation will help you avoid paying fines. They will also contact the local Conservation District office (a non-regulatory resource for farmers) to notify them of the corrective action. The farmer can request technical assistance from the Conservation District, the local University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension office, their local Kentucky Dairy Development Council representative and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff.
A confidential hotline is in place to take questions from producers. The hotline number is 800-926-8111 or you can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact the Whitley County Cooperative Extension Service at 549-1430; e-mail DL_CES_WHITLEY@EMAIL.UKY.EDU; or visit the office located in Cumberland Regional Mall, Suite 34, 965 S. Highway 25W, Williamsburg.