Ecology meeting will discuss water quality permits for Whatcom farms with many animals

The public can weigh in on Thursday, April 23, as part of the Washington state Department of Ecology’s update of a permit for facilities that confine large numbers of livestock, poultry or other animals.

The update is for what is known as the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation General Permit.

The event begins at 6 p.m. at Syre Student Center Building Auditorium at Whatcom Community College, 237 W. Kellogg Road in Bellingham.

Ecology issues the permit to protect public waters by focusing on how animal manure is managed at such facilities, according to a department news release.

Nutrients, bacteria and pathogens in the manure can harm the health of fish-bearing waterways, shellfish beds and groundwater, Ecology said.

Washington’s current general permit expired in 2011, so an update is needed. Ten facilities in the state, including Bel-Lyn Farms in Lynden, are covered by the permit and will remain so.

Ecology expects to have a preliminary draft permit available for public review this summer. On Thursday, the agency will present information about the permit update process and listen to comments, concerns and questions.