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Water Management for Agriculture

Water Discharge Permits for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) require that farmers whose animal feeding operations meet specific criteria must obtain permits to discharge wastewater from CAFOs. DEC's Permits for CAFOs page has complete information on which criteria require permits.

Water Withdrawal for Irrigation

Crop irrigation involves major water withdrawals from surface and groundwater supplies. DEC regulates water withdrawal for irrigation in order to balance the needs of farming with those of other water users and the environment.

Farms that currently withdraw more than 100,000 gallons per day (gpd) of surface or groundwater for irrigation must either:

  • Have registered for a water withdrawal permit prior to February 15, 2012, or
  • Apply for a water withdrawal permit, if they did not register prior to February 15, 2012.

In addition, farms that either currently withdraw, or have the capacity to withdraw, more than 100,000 gpd of surface or groundwater for irrigation must:

  • Submit an annual water withdrawal report by February 1st of each year to NYSDEC.

Note: There is no filing fee for submitting water withdrawal reports. See DEC's Water Withdrawals for Agricultural Facilities page for more information.

Stormwater from Construction on Agricultural Lands

DEC requires a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activity for construction of agricultural facilities, such as barns and bunk silos.

Other types of construction on agricultural land that disturb one acre or more-or 5,000 or more square feet in New York City east of the Hudson River watershed-may also require a SPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activity. See DEC's Stormwater Permit for Construction Activity page for more information.

Some construction projects are considered "best management practices" (BMPs) for properly managing stormwater runoff. The following BMPs meet USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) standards and specifications and are exempt from permit requirements:

Note: Only the following BMPs are exempt. BMPs other than those mentioned below require a SPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activity.

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