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Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Program (CAFO)

What is a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)?

A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), is an animal feeding operation that meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • Large CAFO: confines 1,000 beef animals; 700 dairy cows; 2,500 or 10,000 swine depending on waste system type; 500 horses; 10,000 sheep or lambs; 55,000 turkeys; 30,000, 82,000 or 125,000 chickens depending on waste system type.
  • Medium CAFO: confines fewer than the number listed for a large CAFO, but equal to or greater than 300 beef; 200 dairy cattle; 750 or 3,000 swine; 150 horses; 3,000 sheep or lambs; 16,500 turkeys; or 9,000, 25,000 or 37,500 chickens and discharges pollutants into "waters of the United States" (either directly into on-site water, or indirectly by channeling wastes through a ditch, flushing system, or other device).
  • It is designated by ADEQ upon determination that the operation, regardless of its size, is a significant source of pollution following A.A.C R18-9-D901(B) through (E).

CAFO Permitting Requirements

ADEQ issues two types of water quality permits for CAFOs:

Aquifer Protection Permit (APP)

All CAFO owners or operators are subject to the APP Nitrogen Management General Permit for CAFOs. This APP general permit protects groundwater by minimizing discharges of nitrogen to groundwater from waste impoundments and other CAFO activities through the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs).
For details about BMPs for CAFO activities | See A.A.C R18-9-403.A >

A CAFO owner or operator does not have to submit any paperwork to ADEQ to apply for this permit, but is covered under the general permit if the owner or operator complies with BMPs outlined in the rule, that minimize the discharge of nitrogen to the aquifer.

The BMPs are designed to control nitrogen discharges from: Harvesting, stockpiling and disposal of animal manure; Disposal of manure contaminated water from CAFO activities; Construction and maintenance of the lining of any impoundment used to contain process wastewater or contact stormwater from a CAFO operation. The rule provides the lining requirements for new and existing impoundments.
Learn more about Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) | See Permit >

Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES)

Permit A CAFO is not required to apply for an AZPDES permit unless the owner/operator informs ADEQ there will be a discharge of pollutants to U.S. waters. If there will be a discharge to U.S. waters or tributaries, an individual AZPDES permit is required. CAFO Inspections ADEQ's CAFO Inspection Program inspects animal facilities for the use of BMPs and unauthorized discharges of manure-contaminated wastewater. Unauthorized discharges will result in the initiation of a corrective action. In the event ADEQ discovers a deficiency, ADEQ will usually issue an informal Notice of Opportunity to Correct (NOC), or Notice of Violation (NOV) to a responsible party to address their discharge problems and correct deficiencies in their waste-management practices. Additionally, if warranted, an administrative or civil action may be taken.
Learn more about Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) | See Permit >