Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue

Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) Compliance

Utah Strategy for Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) Compliance 2000, March: The Division of Water Quality entered into an agreement called A Utah Strategy to Address Water Pollution From Animal Feeding Operations (Utah Strategy) with Utah Farm Bureau, Utah Association of Conservation Districts, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and other agricultural agencies and producer groups, to implement a cooperative process to improve waste management at AFOs. The Utah Strategy agreement departed from the traditional regulatory approach to protect water quality. The strategy is unique among the states and has received national recognition from EPA and the National CAFO Roundtable. The strategy relied on partnering and voluntary compliance. The Utah Strategy provided for the agricultural industry and agencies to identify problem AFOs and then provide education, compliance and technical assistance, and financial assistance to address compliance problems at AFOs. The strategy utilized the agricultural partner’s knowledge and working relationships with the producers to increase compliance with the water quality regulations. Impacts to Utah’s waters were reduced through the assistance of the agricultural partners in the preparation and implementation of nutrient management plans which provide proper management and control of wastes. The innovative Utah Strategy has been successful at assisting AFOs with (more…)

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Aquifer Classifications

Utah Aquifer Classifications The October 4, 1984 Governor’s Executive Order stated that it will be Utah’s ground water protection policy that “The quality of ground water will be protected to a degree commensurate with current and probable future uses. Preventive measures will be taken to minimize contamination of the resources so that current and future public and private beneficial uses will not be impaired.” Classification still remains the primary means for implementing this policy. The Utah Ground Water Quality Protection Regulations, R-317-6-5, defines procedures for preparing a petition to classify entire aquifers or parts of an aquifer as a method for maintaining ground water quality in these areas. By classifying an aquifer, the limit of degradation allowable in ground water is established. Aquifer classification does not mandate any specific actions for local planning and zoning, nor obligate local governments to perform any technical assessments or monitoring, nor restrict existing or future land use. Any entity may petition the Utah Water Quality Board for the classification or reclassification of an aquifer. During the Michael O Leavitt’s administration, January 1993 through November 2003, five areas in the state classified their aquifers. They were: Wasatch County (Heber Valley and Round Valley) in 1995; (more…)

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Circle 4 Farms

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Utah In 1992, the City of Milford and Beaver and Iron Counties invited a consortium of hog producers to build a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) as a means to provide economic stimulus and expand their tax base. Local officials and citizens had little working knowledge of CAFOs. Initial public meetings supported the concept based on economic issues and employment prospects for the community. In 1993, the hog CAFO was approved and a groundwater discharge permit was issued by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Groundwater discharge permits protect the beneficial uses of groundwater from the CAFO wastewater facilities and manure lagoons. Other existing Utah environmental regulations may or may not have been adequate at the time to respond to the potential negative impacts associated with CAFOs. The hog farm was first populated in 1994 and is still expanding in 2008. While State permits for groundwater and drinking water protection were in place, other unknown or unintended consequences became apparent after hog farming operations began. By 1997 the local communities were demanding public meetings to complain about noxious odor emissions, contaminated drinking water resources, increasing health impairments, and questioning whether the economic benefits were worth (more…)

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East Canyon Creek

Development of the East Canyon Creek In February, 2000 the Division of Water Quality completed a water quality study for East Canyon Creek in Summit County. The study, referred to as a Total Maximum Daily Load or “TMDL”, was one of the first in Utah that addressed point source (permitted discharge) and nonpoint sources of pollutant loading into the Creek. East Canyon Creek suffers from excessive aquatic plant growth in the stream channel that affects the dissolved oxygen levels in the Creek required by fish such as cutthroat trout to thrive. To reduce this plant growth reductions in phosphorus, a key nutrient, were established for both the East Canyon Water Reclamation Facility and other sources including the ski resorts, golf courses, and agricultural grazing lands. Since then, significant reductions in phosphorus loading have been realized, primarily through an upgrade of the treatment plant. At the same time other activities in the watershed, especially commercial and residential developments, have greatly increased. Although phosphorus remains a concern, the water quality impacts of rapid development such as increased soil erosion, sedimentation of the stream bed and decreased flows have become more prevalent. Additional Information East Canyon Creek TMDL – http://www.waterquality.utah.gov/TMDL/East_Canyon_Creek_TMDL.pdf Utah Watershed Review (more…)

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Ground Water Bacterial Investigation

Ground Water Bacterial Investigation for Milford Valley In the fall of 1998, DEQ and the Southwest Public Health Department began receiving complaints from residents of the Milford Flats area that bacteria were present in private drinking water wells. Milford Flats is located south of the town of Milford in Beaver County. In response to these complaints, DEQ formed a Ground Water Steering Committee comprised of federal, state, and local agencies, and Milford Flat residents. The objective of the Ground Water Steering Committee was to determine the extent of contamination and other factors concerning ground water in the Milford Flats area. In December 1998 and January and February 1999, water samples were collected from the following: 25 private wells; the Beaver River and associated canals; Circle Four Farms swine wastewater lagoons; Circle Four Farms shallow monitoring wells; and Circle Four Farms deep water supply wells. Six different analytical approaches were conducted for the water samples. The first analysis identified coliform bacteria isolates from 20 of the 25 private water wells. After wellhead decontamination by sodium hypochlorite, a second analysis was conducted for the 20 private wells that tested positive for bacteria in the first round of sampling. A third analysis was (more…)

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Growth Summit

The Governor’s “Growth Summit” December 1995 Quality growth planning in Utah began with the Growth Summit in 1995, a conference sponsored by Governor Mike Leavitt in partnership with state and local leaders intended to result in solutions to the growth challenges facing the state. The governor focused the summit on transportation, water and open space issues that he felt needed to be addressed to preserve Utah’s quality of life. In addition to state and local leaders, journalists and citizens were engaged in the policy dialogue at a town meeting discussion that was hosted on the Internet and by radio and TV stations. Governor Leavitt also hosted a lunch-hour Internet chat about growth issues. The Growth Summit resulted in many proposals and a legacy of quality growth planning in Utah that includes: In 1996, Governor Leavitt created the Utah Critical Lands Committee. This Committee supported numerous open space projects and developed educational materials describing the tools and techniques for open space conservation. In 1997, the state partnered with Envision Utah, a public/private community partnership dedicated to studying the effects of long term growth, creating a publicly supported vision for the future, and advocating the necessary strategies necessary to achieve this vision. (more…)

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Heap Leach Extraction Facilities

Development of Guidance Document for Heap Leach Extraction Facilities January 1998 The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) began regulating cyanide heap leach operations in the late 1980s when a number of applications for construction permits were received from various mining companies. During the review process for these initial heap leach permit applications, and the subsequent application reviews for facility expansions and permit renewals, DWQ staff developed a scientific and engineering knowledge base for the design and construction of heap leach facilities. This knowledge base was augmented by formal staff technical training, on-going interaction with mining companies and/or their consultants, and benchmarking of regulations for other western states including Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Although DWQ considered promulgating regulations for the design and construction of heap leach facilities, the agency recognized that specific, detailed regulations could unnecessarily constrain facility designs and restrict consideration of site-specific conditions or application of new technologies. Instead of prescriptive rules, DWQ used its extensive experience and knowledge base to develop guidelines for the design and construction of heap leach facilities including leach pads, solution ponds, solution collection systems, and solution conveyance systems that are adequate for protecting ground water quality while considering (more…)

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Jordan Valley Water District

Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District Aquifer Storage and Recovery System October 1999 The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District was issued Class V Underground Injection Control (UIC) Area Permit UTU500005 to operate an aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) system as an integral part of their public water supply system. Under UAC R317-7-5.1 and UAC R317-7-5.5 the Executive Secretary of the Utah Water Quality Board is authorized to call for a permit for any Class V injection well that may endanger an underground source of drinking water. Since the source waters may be subject to spills or deliberate dumping of contaminants, it is the determination of the Executive Secretary that the proposed injection of water as described above should be permitted. The purpose of the ASR system is to: Capture high quality mountain stream runoff water that is unstored and otherwise uncaptured, treat it, and store it underground for later use; Release stored Deer Creek Reservoir water during the winter months that would otherwise spill during the subsequent spring and cause excessively high flows in the downgradient channel, convey the water to a treatment plant, treat it, and store it underground for later use; Increase the peak demand delivery capacity within Salt (more…)

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Kennecott Utah Copper Company

Natural Resource Damage Claim and Settlement In the late 1980’s the State of Utah became aware of potential impacts to ground water in the area of the Southwest Salt Lake Valley. Subsequent investigations by the State assessed that there was an injury to the ground water resulting from the release of hazardous substances from Kennecott’s (Kennecott Utah Copper Company) milling and mining operations located in the Bingham mining district. The State filed an initial claim against Kennecott in October 1986 in order to preserve its resource damage claim under the then existing statute of limitations even though a five year study was underway to evaluate the existing and potential impacts to the ground water. The Federal District Court (since the action by the State was pursued under CERCLA § 107(a)(4)(C), 42 U.S.C. § 9607(a)(4)(C)) stayed the action until the completion of the five year study and gave time to the State and Kennecott to negotiate a settlement. An initial settlement was filed with the court in 1991 but was subsequently found substantively deficient in three major areas, 1) lack sufficient foundation for the State’s determination that its ground water natural resource cannot be restored, 2) failed to require substantial protection (more…)

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Lake Powell Water Quality

Creation of a Multiple Agency Cooperative Agreement to Reduce Fecal Contamination in the Waters of Lake Powell In 1996 there were multiple beach closures at the Lake Powell National Recreational Area due to high fecal coliform contamination in waters near swimming beaches. The National Park Service (NPS) was concerned about diminished recreation opportunities and negative economic impacts expected if the number of beach closures continued to increase. As a result, NPS contacted the Utah’s Division of Water Quality (DWQ) to discuss potential mechanisms that could be employed to address fecal contamination of this national resource. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was written between the NPS and DWQ to formalize a cooperative agreement to develop programs to decrease threats to human health resulting from fecal pollutants at Lake Powell. At the time the MOU was drafted little was known about sources of fecal contamination, nor were formal procedures in place to protect public health. As a result, the MOU called for the creation of Lake Powell Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to make recommendations to the NPS on how best to address fecal pollutants in the lake. The TAC consisted of scientist and resource managers from EPA Region 8, Arizona DWQ, Utah (more…)

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Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service