The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for regulating pollution from large livestock farms, called concentrated animal feeding operations. Here are some facts about CAFOs in Illinois:
The Illinois EPA believes there are about 3,500 livestock farms large enough to be considered CAFOs, but still isn't sure because many were built before the state began requiring preapproval of big farms by the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 1996. Officials say they're still working to develop a comprehensive list of CAFOs to help prioritize inspections, after the U.S. EPA ordered it to do so two years ago.
The state has issued Clean Water Act permits to 31 CAFOs by the end of 2011, although it estimates that 500 farms should have them. CAFOs are not required to get the permits unless they have polluted, which can happen if a waste lagoon or pit leaks or if manure is overapplied to cropland.
The state EPA issued violation notices to 24 CAFOs in 2011, mostly for discharges and waste-handling violations.
A total of 10 livestock farms were referred to the attorney general's office for enforcement actions in 2010 and 2011.
The state hired six additional people to work on inspecting and issuing permits to CAFOs, doubling the number of people working on those tasks, after the U.S. EPA in 2010 said the state was failing to issue necessary permits.