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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

North Carolina (Section 319I - 1994)

North Carolina plans to use an individual approach through its basinwide management program to address nonpoint source pollution. This involves looking at river basins individually, identifying problems, and targeting specific areas that threaten water quality.

Taking a Stand on Animal Waste Management

In North Carolina, citizen complaints have usually prompted investigations about water quality problems after degradation has occurred. However, with section 319 funds, North Carolina has developed a more formal process to plan and operate animal waste management systems to protect surface and groundwater quality before problems occur.

As a result of the state's expanding animal production operations, particularly hog farming, the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Management (DEM), needed to become more proactive in protecting water quality. So DEM used a portion of its FY 1992 section 319 grant to support the development, coordination, public outreach, training, and implementation of a proactive animal waste management strategy. North Carolina received a section 319 grant of $78,565 for regulation and a $90,000 grant for education.

Responding to the concerns of interest groups and local governments, DEM evaluated existing rules and found them lacking. As a result, in December 1992 North Carolina adopted a water quality rule to address discharges from animal management operations into surface waters. The rule requires all animal waste management systems, regardless of size, to operate without discharging to surface waters. This means that waste must be contained onsite or used on the land as fertilizer in an environmentally safe manner.

The rule establishes animal thresholds or limits for several types of operations (Table 4-3). Farmers with fewer animals and operating without discharge automatically comply with the rule and can receive permits. Farmers with operations larger than the threshold must submit an animal waste management plan outlining how they will handle animal waste. If these farmers can establish environmentally sound waste management practices, they may not need to make structural changes in their operations. New and expanded feedlots with more animals than the threshold must seek state approval before beginning - operations and must meet specific design and construction standards. The standards and specifications for new - facilities are based on those used by SCS and the North Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the lead agency for agricultural nonpoint source pollution control.

By the end of 1997, all farms must have approved animal waste management plans. Farms not meeting the compliance timetable (Table 4-4) may come under a more stringent permitting process. In addition, farmers violating water quality standards are subject to civil and criminal penalties of up to $10,000 per day and imprisonment. North Carolina expects to see a marked reduction in organic and nutrient loading from this ongoing statewide program. Now that section 319 funds have helped establish the rule, North Carolina may again turn to these funds for actual implementation.

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