ADEQ: Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Arizona's Official Web Site
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Water Quality Division: Permits: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Program (CAFO)


The 2004 Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) General Permit expired on April 17, 2009. The current CAFO general permit will be administratively continued and remain in effect for those granted coverage prior to the expiration date. Any permittee who was granted permit coverage before the expiration date will automatically remain covered by the administratively continued CAFO general permit until the earlier of:

  • Reissuance or replacement of the permit; or
  • The permittee submits a Notice of Termination (NOT); or
  • ADEQ issues an individual permit for the discharge; or
  • ADEQ issues a formal permit decision not to reissue the general permit.

No new Notices of Intent (NOI) for CAFO General Permit coverage can be accepted until the new CAFO General Permit is issued.

Animal feeding operations are agricultural facilities where animals (other than aquatic animals) are confined and fed for 45 days or more a year. Manure from an animal feeding operation, if not managed properly, can discharge nitrogen pollutants, which can migrate and pollute surface and ground waters.

What is a 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 (18 A.A.C. 9 Article 4) protects groundwater by minimizing discharges of nitrogen to groundwater from waste impoundments and other CAFO activities through the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs). 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.

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, 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.

Documents Regarding CAFO

Other Resources Legal Authority
Arizona NRCS Technical Standards - Code 590 - for Nutrient Management Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 49-203(A)(1) (Authority to adopt water quality rules)

A.R.S. § 49-203(B)(1) (Authority to inspect livestock facilities)

A.R.S. § 49-247 (Agricultural general permits; best management practices for regulated agricultural activities)
National Engineering Handbook Part 651 Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook Arizona Administrative Code (A.A.C.)

Nitrogen Management General Permits (Application of manure):
R18-9-401 (Definitions)
R18-9-402 (agricultural general permits: nitrogen fertilizers);
A.A.C. R18-9-403 (Nitrogen Management General Permits: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations);
A.A.C. R18-9-404 (Revocation of Coverage under a Nitrogen Management General Permit)

CAFOS and Surface Water discharges under AZPDES R18-9-D901 through R18-9-D904
R18-9-D905 (Closure Requirements)

For questions or further information, contact your local cooperative extension office or the nearest National Resource Conservation Service office for additional information about BMPs.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Peterson - (602) 771-4253.