Changes to Construction Requirements for Animal Feeding Operations
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By Sara Smith, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
If you are planning to do new construction or modifications at your confinement feeding operation, you may welcome changes made to the DNR's construction application forms. All applicants should begin to use the new form, available at www.iowadnr.com.
The changes were necessary, partly due to rule amendments modifying some conditions when a construction permit (CP) must be obtained, but mostly as part of a department-wide initiative to streamline application processes.
Although the look is similar, the form has been re-organized in a manner that applicants for a construction permit will know when a construction permit is required and what information the DNR needs before being approved. The form now includes tables to calculate required fees and animal weight capacity, a factor that would dictate some separation distance requirements at certain operations.
One of the highlights of the new application form is that applicants and their consultants can fill in the information on their computers and print the completed forms for signature and submittal. However, electronic submittals are not possible yet.
Also new, the form has three different checklists - one for when an engineer is required, one for when an an engineer is not required and one for those building an earthen structure. Using the right checklist and information will avoid unnecessary revisions and delays.
To expedite review, the DNR requests that applicants place the construction application form on top of all other materials submitted. Applications consist of various documents and when applications include the manure management plan as the first document, the operation can be mistaken as a facility not required to obtain a permit, including at the county level. This could result in the required public notice not being published in a timely manner or worse yet, the master matrix evaluation being delayed. This delays the application process and has forced some applicants to request extensions to the DNR and the county.
Complete applications can be approved in approximately 45 days. Incomplete or inaccurate applications can take several months. Iowa law requires that DNR make a decision to approve or to disapprove an application within 60 days. In some instances however, even complete applications can take as much as 90 days or more if the county demands a hearing to the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).
During the last week of July, the DNR will meet with stakeholders to improve the construction permit process. The revised process is expected to increase efficiency and improve customer service. This is especially important because the DNR has received 160 applications in the first half of 2005, more than the 122 received in the entire 2004 calendar year.Because producers must also consider other siting restrictions such as alluvial soils, flood plain and the presence of karst and sinkholes, early planning is key when considering constructing or modifying a confinement operation.