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Dairy cows

The Department of Environmental Conservation's pollution discharge permit for some large dairy and other livestock farms in the state does not fully comply with the federal Clean Water Act, a state Supreme Court has ruled.

The public has a chance to comment on revisions to a state permit regulating large animal farms that discharge into a water body.

The comment period and revisions come after an Albany Court judge ruled earlier this year that the permits violated the Clean Water Act.

There are 21 concentrated animal feeding operations under the permit, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Concentrated animal feeding operations generally are farms with 300 or more animals that confine their livestock for 45 days or more in a year.

Eight of those farms are in Washington County and two are in Saratoga County, according to the DEC.

“New York’s CAFO permits were developed with significant input from the agricultural and environmentfal communities,” the DEC said in a statement. “These permits have many requirements designed to ensure proper management of nutrients and prevent surface runoff and groundwater infiltration in order to protect water quality.”

One of the proposed revisions includes that the state must approve any changes made to a farm’s nutrient management plan, whereas prior the permits said “insignificant changes” could be made with a farm’s Agriculture Environmental Management certified planner.

Albany Supreme Court Justice David Weinstein had found fault with this, saying that the planner is hired by the farm and there was no reason a farm could not terminate a planner if the person made an unfavorable plan.

In the meantime, farms under the Clean Water Act permit can continue to operate under the current permit until July 23, 2019, according to the DEC.

Any public comments on the new revisions must be submitted in writing no later than Oct. 11. The contact person is Douglas Ashline, DEC Division of Water, 625 Broadway, 4th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-3505. The public may also call (518) 402-8247 or email cafoinfo@dec.ny.gov.

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Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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