National Enforcement Initiative: Preventing Animal Waste from Contaminating Surface and Ground Water

Beef cattle operation

Fast Fact

USDA's 2007 Census of Agriculture data resulted in an estimate that 2.2 billion head of livestock (cattle, dairy, and swine) and poultry generated approximately 1.1 billion tons of manure in 2007.

If not managed properly, pollutants (nutrients, ammonia, and bacteria) in manure can degrade surface water and ground water and threaten human and ecological health. 


Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are a subset of livestock and poultry animal feeding operations (AFOs) that meet the regulatory thresholds of number of animals for various animal types. Animals are kept and raised in confined situations for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period and feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise feeding in pastures, fields, or on range land.

At these facilities, live animals as well as mortalities, feed, and animal wastes may be congregated on a small land area. These operations generate significant volumes of animal waste which, if improperly managed can result in environmental and human health risks such as water quality impairment, fish kills, algal blooms, contamination of drinking water sources, and transmission of disease-causing bacteria and parasites associated with food and waterborne diseases.


EPA will take action to reduce animal waste pollution from livestock and poultry operations that impair our nation’s waters, threaten drinking water sources, and adversely impact communities.

Enforcement Cases

Note: This is a sample list of cases.


Progress on Preventing Animal Waste from Contaminating Surface and Ground Water

The following maps and charts show EPA's progress in reducing animal waste pollution from livestock and poultry concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) operations.

Map of large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) and EPA CAFO inspections and enforcement actions