Virginia Department of Environmental Quality regulators have approved stormwater permits for three Accomack County poultry houses.
The State Water Control Board voted 5-0 on Thursday.
The poultry farms are located in Atlantic, Withams, and New Church.
According to Virginia Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Ann Regn, “The applicants have been responsive to making changes resulting from inspections, and we expect them to comply with these additional requirements for environmental management.”
While the permits put more onus on farmers to monitor stormwater discharges, environmental groups such as The Chesapeake Bay Foundation voiced oppositon, and noted that the current regulations continue to leave the health of the Chesapeake Bay at risk.
The CBF said in comments filed with DEQ, regular monitoring of surface and ground water will be essential to protecting the Bay’s water quality. Monitoring would show if pollution is leaving these facilities, which could be addressed by requiring pollution reductions through conservation practices.
Virginia poultry operations produced about 28.3 million more birds in 2016 than in 2010—a 12 percent increase—according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Over the same time the weight of birds produced increased 27 percent, meaning the average bird is now larger and produces more manure. Much of this growth is taking place on the Eastern Shore.