The advent of spring often brings with it a flurry of construction activities.
If your farm is planning for new barns, bunk silos or certain other structures, you may also be required to obtain a General Permit for Stormwater Discharges (SPDES Construction Permit). This requirement is often overlooked by farms and a number of facilities have been cited during CAFO inspections for failure to obtain the proper permits. The following is a summary of the requirements you should be aware of. They are also listed in your ECL SPDES General Permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. All CAFOs are required to have a copy of the permit at their facility or in their CNMP. It should be noted that the following requirements apply to construction activities at all farms, not just CAFO facilities.
- Certain operational and vegetative agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) do not require obtaining the SPDES Construction Permit or implementing erosion and sediment control practices. Examples of these BMPs are conservation tillage (reduced till, no-till, strip till), cover crops, crop rotation, land application of manure and strip cropping.
- Construction of Structural Agricultural BMPs with soil disturbances of between one and five acres: If you are constructing certain structural agricultural BMPs that will disturb one or more acres but less than five acres, you do not need to obtain a SPDES Construction Permit. However, you are required to implement erosion and sediment control practices designed in conformance with the New York Standards and Specifications for Erosion and Sediment Control during construction. Examples of these BMPs are access roads, barnyard runoff systems, diversions, critical area protection, fencing, grass waterways, composting and manure storage systems. Your farm’s engineer or many Soil and Water Conservation Districts can help you plan the needed erosion control practices
- Construction of Structural Agricultural BMPs listed in (2) above with soil disturbance of five or more acres: If your activity falls under this category, you are required to obtain coverage under the SPDES Construction Permit by submitting a SPDES Construction Permit Notice of Intent to DEC prior to the start of soil disturbance. You are also required to develop and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) that includes erosion and sediment control practices. Again, your engineer or some Soil and Water Conservation Districts can assist you.
- Construction Activities with soil disturbances between one and five acres that require both a SPDES Construction Permit and a SWPPP: Certain construction activities that disturb more than one acre, but less than five acres will require coverage under the SPDES Construction Permit and also the development and implementation of a SWPPP. Examples of these activities include barns, houses, bunk silos, farm ponds and other farm buildings.
- Construction Activities listed in (4) above with soil disturbances of five or more acres: You must get the coverage listed above for disturbances of between one and five acres. In addition, if the project includes the construction or reconstruction of impervious areas, the SWPPP must also address post-construction stormwater management practices.
To obtain coverage under the SPDES General Permit, you need to submit a Construction Permit Notice of Intent to your local DEC office. While this may sound confusing, it is important that you follow these requirements. Just keep in mind that if you are planning any construction activities on your farm, you should first check to see if you need to obtain any permits from DEC. If you are working with an engineer, they should know the requirements. You can also check with your local Soil and Water Conservation District. Your farmstead planner at WNY Crop Management Association can also give you guidance. If you still have questions, contact your local DEC office.