The SC Pollution Control Act (PCA) is the basis of South Carolina's water pollution control and water quality protection programs. It establishes the Department of Heath and Environmental Control (Department) as the state agency responsible for environmental matters. The law empowers the Department to hold hearings, promulgate regulations, require permits, conduct monitoring, and take enforcement actions among other things.
Section 48-1-100 of the PCA requires a permit from the Department before sewage or other waste may be discharged to the environment of the State. The law defines sewage to include animal waste and dead animals are included in the definition of other waste. Therefore, agricultural animal growing operations must by law receive permits for the handling, storage, treatment, and disposal of manure, litter (bedding material), and dead animals.
Section 48-1-110 of the PCA requires plans to be submitted and written approval granted by the Department before any disposal system may be built, operated, or modified. For agricultural facilities, the required plans are the animal facility management plans for handling, storing, treating (if necessary), and utilizing the manure generated at the facilities.
In summary, the PCA is the environmental law of South Carolina relating to water quality protection and it empowers the Department to conduct the water pollution control program through a wide range of activities such as permitting, inspections, compliance, monitoring, enforcement and public education. To meet the requirements of the PCA, the Department regulates a number of different activities and facilities. Agricultural facilities fall under the jurisdiction of the Department because of this law.
The SC Environmental Protection Fund Act authorizes the Department to collect application and annual operating fees for any facility permitted under the SC Pollution Control Act. This law requires that fees for any program be identified in a regulation before they can assessed. Regulation 61-30 addresses fees for most environmental programs including the agricultural program. All fees collected under this law go to the Department for administering the specific program for which the fees were collected. Therefore, all fees for agricultural facilities are applied toward running the Department's agricultural program.
The regulations were initially adopted on June 26, 1998. These regulations give permitting procedures and criteria for animal growing operations. They were updated in 2002 to include new requirements for large swine facilities over 1,000,000 pounds, permitting requirements for manure broker operations, an integrator registration program, and other miscellaneous corrections and clarifications.
Prior to the adoption of these regulations the Department used guidelines. The guidelines and the requirements from the SC Confined Swine Feeding Operation Act (which was repealed on June 28, 2002) were used as a basis for most of the requirements in the regulations. To assist in developing and updating the regulations, the Department established a committee made up of interested parties to review the proposed regulations with the Department before they were published for public comment. The committee was made up of representatives from the regulated community, environmental groups, the Staff of the SC Senate, Clemson University, US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Bureau, and AgFirst. This group was instrumental in assisting the Department in finalizing the draft regulations both initially and when the regulations were updated.
The regulations are divided into seven (7) Parts: Part 50 contains the definitions, Part 100 deals with swine facilities, Part 200 deals with all other animal facilities, Part 300 addresses innovative and alternative technology and applies to facilities regulated under Part 100 or Part 200, Part 400 deals Manure Brokers, Part 500 deals with Integrator Registration, and Part 600 deals with Severability.
Regulation 61-43 requires any facility that has been closed for five or more years to properly close out the facility in accordance with Regulation 61-82. This regulation requires that a closeout report be prepared and submitted to the Department for review and approval when a facility has closed. The regulation does not prescribe specific methods for closures but it does contain some information relating to lagoon closures and it requires proper disposal of all waste materials.
This regulation gives the specific fee amounts for both application and annual operating fees for agricultural facilities as well as other types of facilities. The regulation addresses assessment of penalties for late payment of fees and also authorizes the Department to deny any environmental permit to a permit applicant if any fees are not paid. The regulation also allows the Department to revoke any permit for which fees have not been paid.
In addition to establishing fees, this regulation establishes time frames for the Department to meet for each permit application covered under the fee program. The permit time frame is not the total permit time rather it is the Department's portion of the total time. This regulation also requires the staff of the Department to submit a quarterly report to the DHEC Board on the fees collected and meeting of the time frames.