Illinois Regulations Affecting Composting of Horse Bedding
Composting can be an easy, efficient and environmentally safe technology for the disposal of horse manure if conducted correctly. Unfortunately, current permitting regulations may actually discourage many horse stables from composting horse manure or horse bedding. Understanding these regulations can assist equine facility operators in making sound decisions on waste disposal.
Of the two government entities that regulate compost facilities in Illinois, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is the main regulatory agency, determining compost application rates and siting regulations, and issuing permits. The Illinois Department of Agriculture oversees the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act (ILFMA) and the manure Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) specifically relating to compost.
- The IEPA does not distinguish between the manure and urine soaked bedding (horse manure) and the dry bedding (horse bedding), but instead considers it all horse manure which in technical terms is considered organic material.
- Horse bedding will not compost without the addition of another nitrogen source, such as manure, grass clippings or fertilizers.
- Horse manure will compost with little effort and without the addition of a nitrogen source.
- An equine facility that uses material generated on-site for composting and then uses the resulting compost on-site does not need a permit.
- If a facility takes in material from another location that makes up more than 10 percent of the total material being composted, it must obtain an IEPA permit for siting and operation.
- If a facility sells or gives away the resulting compost, it must obtain an IEPA permit for siting and operation.
- Because any composting facility, whether permitted or not, is not allowed to cause pollution, certain requirements exist for permitted and non-permitted facilities alike.
desirable composting operation
Compost Facility Qualifications for IEPA Permit Exemptions
- The site is located on the farm on which the compost is applied.
- The site is operated by the owner/operator of the property.
- The farmland on which the compost is applied is in production of crops annually.
- The size of the compost site is less than two percent of the acreage of the property.
- The site is not owned or controlled by a waste hauler or commercial composter.
- The farmer registers the site with IEPA by January 1 following commencement of operation and files a report each year thereafter.
- Off-site generated additives to the composted waste do not exceed 10 percent by volume.
Siting Criteria for All Compost Facilities (Permitted or Non-permitted)
- Located 200 feet from any well
- Located 5 feet above the water table or located on an impermeable surface (such as concrete or asphalt)
- Located 50 feet from the property line
- Located outside of the 10 year floodplain or is flood-proofed
- No compost facility may cause surface water (runoff) or ground water (leaching) pollution
Generally, livestock waste composting may be conducted and the finished compost applied to the on-site farmland without a permit from IEPA. No permit is required if the materials being mixed are all generated on the local farm or acreage.
illegal manure site
- A National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit is needed for livestock operations greater than 1000 head. These permits are administered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).
- Operations greater than 150 horses will need to develop a Nutrient Management Plan according the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act with oversight from the IDOA.
- An equine facility that brings in material from another location that is greater than 10% of the total volume, must obtain a siting and operation permit from the IEPA.
- An equine facility that sells or gives away the resulting compost, must obtain a siting and operation permit from the IEPA.
- If a facility is using municipal waste in its operations it will need local siting approval from the county board or town council before obtaining a permit from the IEPA.
- Any compost facility that requires an IEPA siting permit(s) must first obtain local siting approval from the town council or county board.
- Site identification and facility description
- Permit requested and applicant identification
- Proof of land ownership and certification
- Site location and site plan map
- Narrative description of facility
- Closure plan
- Financial assurance
- Public notification
- Required signatures and certifications, including approval by a professional engineer
- IEPA does not charge a fee, but the cost for services of an engineer and local county or municipal siting fees may range from $50-$50,000
Fact, No Permit Needed
- An equine facility can compost any material generated on site.
- A stable can compost horse manure, grass clippings, straws, sawdust, old feed, etc. that originated from that specific facility.
- The resulting compost must be used on-site.
Fact, Permit Required If
- The compost produced is sold or given away.
- The composting operation accepts composting material greater than 10 percent of the total volume of waste generated on-site.
Siting and permits
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
1021 North Grand Avenue East
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
Bureau of Land 217-524-3300
Bureau of Water 217-782-1654
Livestock and Nutrient Management
State of Illinois Department of Agriculture
P.O. Box 19281, State Fairgrounds
Springfield, IL 62794-9281