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State and Department
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
Water Quality Division

Title of Project
Streamlining the Permit Process for Oklahoma Aquaculture Facilities

Focus Area
Restore and Maintain Water Quality

Contact Person
Shellie Chard McClary
Environmental Program Manager
707 N. Robinson
P.O. Box 1677
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73101-1677
(405) 702-8154
(405) 702-8101 fax

Total Funds Requested from EPA

Other Federal Program Assistance

Regulatory Flexibility

Project Support
This project is supported by Steve Thompson,
Executive Director,
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

Preferred Assistance Agreement
Project Grant


The objective of this project is to expedite the permitting process for aquaculture facilities in Oklahoma, and thereby contribute to the overreaching goal of pollution prevention in the State. By issuing a general permit, rather than individual permits, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) serves to move the entire aquaculture sector toward improved environmental performance. A general permit considerably reduces the time required to obtain a permit, saves costs, and increases efficiency by providing a uniform measure to protect the environment. ODEQ builds on previous experience with the success of establishing innovative general permits in other water quality regulation areas. Our vision for the overall impact of the project is a model of success that can continue to be applied to other Water Quality Division permitting processes.

The target priority environmental area of this project is to improve water quality. This will be accomplished by expanding the use of an innovative incentive, general permitting, which has been shown to improve environmental protection. This approach differs from the status quo of issuing individual permits to each facility and builds on lessons learned from converting individual to general permits in other sectors such as underground storage tanks, municipal lagoons, storm water facility construction, and car washes.

Aquaculture facilities, which include fish and all other aquatic animal production farms, are regulated to control the adverse water quality impact of wastewater discharge or impoundment resulting from their operations. Approximately 15 fish farms were permitted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board before QDEQ was formed. All of these permits have subsequently expired. According to the license list of the Oklahoma Fish and Wildlife Department, there are at least 53 fish farms currently operating in the State. Permit coverage will be required for those farms that are concentrated aquatic animal production facilities only, while others will be required to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs).

A key factor in contributing to the success of this project is the educational process proposed as part of the outreach activities. Two meetings will be held in different locations of the State for the affected industrial sector, as well as the general public. At the meetings, ODEQ staff will describe the concept and benefits of a general permit, discuss BMPs, and answer any questions or concerns. Facility operators will be sent letters informing them of the progress of the general permitting process and given the opportunity to provide further feedback during a comment period. The outreach activities and public meetings, therefore, provide structure for a learning process in which information is shared and public critique and suggestions are addressed.

Indicators that will measure progress toward meeting project goals include successful contact with each facility, public meeting attendance, the issuance of the general permit, and the number of authorizations issued. Each of these components will be measured quantitatively and qualitatively. The short-term outcome of the project will be the education of facility operators and the permitting of aquaculture facilities. The long-term consequence of this outreach and permitting process will be enhanced environmental compliance and protection as well as opportunity for replication and widespread application of the process to other types of facilities, as well as other media.


The process of streamlining the permitting process for aquaculture facilities will consist of:

This project is expected to be completed within nine months after grant award. At this time, it is anticipated that commencement will be February 1, 2003 or within 30 days of grant award and be completed by September 30, 2003.


Conduct public outreach activities

March 1, 2003 (or within two months of grant award)

Draft general permit

April 1, 2003 (or within three months of grant award)

Hold public meetings

July 1, 2003 (or within six months of grant award)

Issue general permit

September 1, 2003 (or within eight months of grant award)

Submit final report

September 30, 2003 (or within nine months of grant award)


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