Press Release:Major Environmental Loophole Closed!
Major Environmental Loophole Closed!
Shenandoah Riverkeeper Applauds Virginia’s Commitment to the River and the Chesapeake Bay
(Boyce, VA) — A major regulatory loophole closed yesterday as the Virginia State Water Control Board approved changes in the way poultry waste is regulated. Currently only poultry waste used by poultry growers themselves is regulated. Neighboring farmers and customers of the growers have never been regulated in how they use the waste on their fields.
According to Shenandoah Riverkeeper Jeff Kelble, agency records show that 80% of all poultry waste in Virginia has evaded regulation in this manner.
The improvements establish new requirements for end users to ensure Virginia's waters are being protected when farmers apply poultry waste to crops and pasture. The regulations now set limits to the application rate, they require setbacks from streams and sinkholes and they require waste to be stored protectively.
For nearly a decade, poultry regulations only applied to poultry growers—effectively creating a loophole where growers could sell or move waste off their site where it is no longer regulated.
Yesterday's improvements came after an intense public commenting period over the summer and nearly two hours of wrangling yesterday at the citizen board meeting that ended after 5pm.
Kelble said the improvements included nearly all of the changes that he and his supporters advocated for. Together, Shenandoah Riverkeeper members and supporters submitted about 90% of all the comments received online.
“This is a major step forward in solving the decades old issue of poultry waste use in the Shenandoah Valley,” Kelble said. “We were also happy to see the agency consider concerns from farmers, and they made a host of changes to the regulation’s recordkeeping requirements to reduce the burden, while at the same time keeping all the important protections for the river.”
Major credit should go to Governor Timothy Kaine, the Secretary of Natural Resources Preston L. Bryant, the Department of Environmental Quality, and Department of Conservation and Recreation for proposing and creating this protective regulation. Special thanks to Jeff Corbin, Ellen Gilinsky, Betsy Bowles, Russ Perkinson and Neil Zahradka for their work in the trenches. Kelble also commented at the hearing about how constructive the process was by including concerns and feedback from multiple agencies, conservation organizations and farming interests.
“I would like to thank the public their tremendous support,” Kelble said. “I would also like to thank the agricultural representatives for proposing and working constructively on this regulation. Withoutmaking improvements in the way poultry waste is handled in the Shenandoah Valley we would neverget to our goals of clean water."
The name of the permit is the Virginia Pollution Abatement (VPA) Permit Regulation for Poultry Waste Management
Shenandoah Riverkeeper is a part of Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc.--a 501(c)(3) organization that protects water quality in the Shenandoah River, Potomac River and their tributaries through community action and enforcement.
Shenandoah Riverkeeper contributed two years to the development of the regulation which passed the State Water Control Board 7-0 on Monday.
Back in the Winter of 2007, Secretary of Natural Resources Preston L. Bryant announced his intention to regulate end users of poultry waste and formed an exploratory group. Using results of the exploratory group, the next step was the assembly of a Technical Advisory Committee to hash out details of the regulation.
Shenandoah Riverkeeper Jeff Kelble worked to represent the area of Virginia hardest hit by the concentrations of industrial poultry production, the Shenandoah Valley. With nearly 1000 industrial poultry producing facilities and concentrations of agriculture in general, scientists have shown that the Shenandoah River holds the clear title of the most fertilized river in the state. Kelble testified to specific waste disposal practices of concern and general issues with the way the industry has grown in the valley without regard to effects on water quality.
Kelble states "Millions of people visit the Shenandoah Valley each year to enjoy it's beauty, many of them paddle, tube and fish the river, and this regulation was a critical step toward ensuring that these uses are protected and that the river improves over time" He adds "The river had no way of speaking for itself during the formation of this regulation and I took it as my job to testify to the issues this river faces."