WHEELING, W. Va. – Poultry dust and feathers deposited on the ground outside poultry houses that may end up in storm water runoff is not a violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the US District Court judge ruled in a summary judgment.

The long-running case involves Lois Alt, the owner of a poultry grow-out business called Eight is Enough in Old Fields, W. Va. Alt challenged an Environmental Protection Agency order to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for storm water runoff from her farm. EPA withdrew the order, but the US District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled the case should go forward to clarify whether discharge permits are required for “ordinary precipitation runoff from a typical farmyard.”

In a summary judgment issued Oct. 23, Chief US District Judge John Bailey wrote: “This court declares that the litter and manure which is washed from the Alt farmyard to navigable waters by a precipitation event is an agricultural storm water discharge and therefore not a point source discharge, thereby rendering it exempt from the NPDES permit requirement of the Clean Water Act.”

John Starkey, president of US Poultry & Egg Association, said: “We applaud Judge Bailey’s decision to issue a summary judgment. We are pleased that Ms. Alt’s legal uncertainty has been resolved in her favor by a common sense ruling that is consistent with a clear understanding of the Clean Water Act, the intent of congress and recent legal precedent established in the Waterkeeper case.”