Once a facility begins operating, it is added to the list of wastewater facilities that are inspected by the EQC Regional Offices under the oversight of the Bureau of Water's Compliance Assurance Division. Each of the eight Regional Offices is required to perform agricultural inspections to ensure facilities are in compliance with the requirements of their permit and animal facility management plan.
Agricultural facility inspections are handled in the same manner as other inspections on wastewater treatment facilities. Follow-up inspections are performed when initial inspections reveal problems. Farmers are provided a copy of the inspection reports on their facilities. Presently, the Department performs about 1,500 agricultural inspections per year. Complaints are also investigated by the Regional Offices.
The Regional Offices are encouraged to work with the farmers to resolve any problems at agricultural facilities. Also, the Water Pollution Control Division provides technical assistance to farmers. The Department believes this proactive approach will increase the number of facilities that remain in compliance with their permits.
The Bureau of Water has a publication entitled, SC Animal Feeding Operations Compliance & Enforcement Inspection Strategy. This document provides an overview of the agricultural inspection and compliance programs.
For facilities that fail to correct deficiencies in their operation or that fail to have an approved animal facility management plan, the Bureau of Water's Enforcement Division can be called upon to address the problem through enforcement action. The enforcement process for agricultural facilities is the same process that is used for all wastewater facilities. Types of enforcement actions that can and have been taken against agricultural facilities include notices of violations, enforcement conferences, consent orders, and administrative orders. Prosecution in State or Federal Court is also available as appropriate. Fines for civil violations can be up to $10,000 per day per violation while criminal penalties can be up to $25,000 per day per violation and/or imprisonment.