Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation General Permit - Expired: See comments/notes

What is the purpose of this permit?
The Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) permit is intended to protect both surface waters and ground waters by requiring implementation of Nutrient Management Plans (NMP). NMPs are site specific plans that describe how livestock operations plan to collect, store, handle and apply nutrients at agronomic rates. NMPs also detail best management practices (BMPs) that a facility must implement to prevent impacts to surface and groundwater from all areas of the facility such as barns, milking houses, feeding areas and land application fields. CAFOs must have a NMP certified by the local Conservation District. In addition, as part of the permit application process, CAFO permittees must have their NMP reviewed by The Department of Ecology (Ecology) to ensure it meets the minimum requirements listed in the CAFO permit. Under the federal Clean Water Act, CAFO's are point sources requiring a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit if they discharge or propose to discharge to State or Federal Waters either directly or through a man-made conveyance. As part of the Second Circuit Court "Waterkeeper" decision, just having the potential to discharge was not enough to require the CAFO permit. A CAFO facility may also voluntarily apply for coverage under the CAFO General Permit. NMPs are also made available for public review. CAFO's include the following livestock categories:
  • Mature dairy cows
  • Veal calves
  • Cattle other than mature dairy cattle - heifers, steers, bulls, and cow/calf pairs
  • Swine/li>
  • Horses
  • Sheep
  • Turkeys
  • Chickens (layers and broilers)
  • Ducks
Who issues this permit?
Department of Ecology
What activities require this permit?
Operating a concentrated animal feeding operation that discharges or proposes to discharge to State or Federal Waters (surface or ground).
How much will this permit cost?
  • Permit fees are based on the maximum number of Animal Units (AU) a facility may house under their permit coverage.
  • For Fiscal Year 2015, the current fees for a non-dairy CAFO range from $224 to $2,253. Dairy CAFO fees are capped at $0.50 per AU not to exceed $1,576 for Fiscal Year 2015 and beyond.
  • The definition of AU may be found in Chapter 173-224-030 WAC.
  • Permit fees are subject to change. Please refer to Chapter 173-224-040 WAC for the current permit fee schedule.
Where can I get the application for this permit?
The application is called 'Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Permit - Application for Coverage' is online and can be accessed at
Do I need to include anything with my application?
Yes. Include:
  1. A topographic map (your facility must be sketched on the map) of your facility and the fields you apply manure, litter or process wastewater to. Wellhead protection areas and field buffers must be included on the maps.
  2. A nutrient management plan that meets the minimum elements contained in the CAFO permit. A checklist developed by the Interagency Livestock Technical Advisory Committee (ILTAC) is provided to help ensure that applicants meet the minimum requirements.
Is the decision on my permit dependent on anything besides the information in my application?
Yes. Your nutrient management plan must be determined to be acceptable by Ecology, with assistance from the Department of Agriculture, before permit coverage is issued. If your plan is determined to be unacceptable, you will receive a detailed letter that indicates what information must be included for your nutrient management plan to be considered acceptable.
How long will it take to review my application?
WAC 173-226-200 and RCW 90.48.170: Application for permits shall be made at least 60 days prior to commencement of any proposed discharge or permit expiration date, whichever is applicable.
Where do I submit my application?
Submit your application and conservation district certified nutrient management plan to:

    Department of Ecology
    Water Quality Program
    CAFO Permit Coordinator
    PO Box 47600
    Olympia, WA 98504-7600
How long is my permit valid?
Your permit is valid from the date coverage is issued to you until the date of the expiration of the CAFO permit (or the permit is canceled or revoked), which was July 21, 2011. A new CAFO permit will be issued, or the current permit re-issued.
What is the appeal process for the permit?
To file an appeal you, or a third party, may submit the required documentation within 30 days of issuance or receipt, whichever comes later. You must file your appeal with the Pollution Control Hearings Board and send it to the Department of Ecology's Appeal Coordinator. Specifics may also be found in section G19 of the CAFO General Permit.
Notes / Comments:
Please note: This general permit expired in 2011 and information presented here reflects the expired permit. Ecology is in the process of developing an updated version of the permit that will replace the expired one. Please see: Subject Matter Expert Phone and Email: CAFO General Permits Contacts If you would like to contact us by mail, address the envelope to:     Department of Ecology     Water Quality Program - HQ     CAFO Permit Coordinator     PO Box 47600     Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Legal Authority:
Permit Timeliness Results

Permit Timeliness data collection is in response to a State Auditor’s Performance Audit and RCW 43.42A. Each regulatory agency developed a plan to improve permit clarity, predictability, and timeliness. Each agency considers the customers experience to ensure permit assistance is simple to use, easy to access, and designed in a customer-friendly manner. Agencies report progress to the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). ORIA prepares and distributes reports, with participation from the State Auditor’s Office and Results Washington. See latest report here:

All permits submitted for reporting were entered into this Regulatory Handbook. Here are the results of the performance data:

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Process a Permit Application (Definition)
Average number of days from Receipt to Complete: 35
Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: 35

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)
Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 35
Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 35

(Summary results based on 1 submittals in 2021, no data for current year)

Where can I get permitting assistance?
Web page URL:
Subject matter expert phone: See notes/comments for link to contacts.
Department of Ecology
Water Quality Program
300 Desmond Drive
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Fax: (360) 407-6426
Telephone: (360) 407-6600
Triggering Questions:
  • Will you have a concentrated animal feeding operation?
* Permit information last updated 11/18/2019