15.20.11.05

.05 Agricultural Certainty Certification — General Requirements.

A. Unless suspended or revoked, a certification remains in effect for a 10-year period following approval by the Department if:

(1) The operation remains in compliance with the Certainty agreement set forth in Regulation .04F of this chapter and all other requirements of the Program under this chapter; and

(2) There are no changes to the operation, including no change in the:

(a) Operator with the exception of an interfamily transfer;

(b) Owner when it results in a change in the operator;

(c) Average annual number of animal units of 10 percent or greater; or

(d) Operation resulting in the operation being ineligible for the Program.

B. An operator who has any of the changes identified in Regulation .04F(7) or Regulation .05A(2) of this chapter shall notify the Department within 60 days and:

(1) Execute an agreement with the Department to bring the operation into compliance to meet certification requirements;

(2) Reapply for certification; and

(3) Terminate the Certainty agreement.

C. For changes in the operation that would not result in suspension of certification under this chapter, including rotation of crops, implementation of additional BMPs, or other changes that receive prior approval by MDA provided they do not exceed the allowable TMDL threshold for the operation, MDA may:

(1) Approve changes not deemed significant; and

(2) Require documentation be provided by a new MNTT analysis verifying TMDL thresholds continue to be met.

D. When nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment runoff conditions arise as a result of natural causes, such as severe weather events, which are not within the control of the operator of the operation:

(1) The certification holder shall provide notice within 60 days to the Department describing the condition;

(2) The Department will coordinate a site inspection with MDE and may assign a certified verifier to conduct a site inspection; and

(3) Following a Department review, the Department, with concurrence from MDE, shall:

(a) Allow continuation under the Program if a repair, correction, or installation of additional BMPs to address the nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment runoff is accomplished within a reasonably expeditious time frame identified by an agreement executed with the Department; or

(b) Suspend certification if the Department finds the condition arose due to mismanagement, lack of maintenance, or the failure of the operator of the operation to provide notice to the Department within 60 days.

E. Following the site inspection that takes place nearest to year 9 during the 10-year certification period, the operator shall take steps to address compliance issues with any new local, State, or federal law, regulation, or requirement that took effect during the Certainty agreement period.

F. After each review conducted at the direction of MDA under Regulation .06D of this chapter, the certified verifier shall list on a Department form and orally explain to the certification holder any current or proposed laws that will require changes to the operation before the 10-year completion of the Program.

G. At the expiration of the certification, an operation shall be in compliance with all laws, regulations, or permit requirements relating to nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment runoff control that are in effect at that time.

H. An operation certified under Regulation .04 of this chapter may apply and qualify for recertification if:

(1) The application and information required under Regulation .04A of this chapter reflect current conditions as submitted to the Department;

(2) All the requirements in Regulation .04 of this chapter are met; and

(3) MDE approves the recertification if an operation is permitted or has a permit pending with MDE.

I. An operation that is certified:

(1) Except as provided in §I(2) and (3) of this regulation, is not subject during its 10-year certification period to local and State laws, regulations, or requirements enacted or adopted after the date of certification that require the reduction of agricultural sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment runoff to meet the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, including requirements of the WIP, local TMDLs, or other water quality requirements for managing agricultural sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment;

(2) Is not protected from enforcement or corrective actions related to water quality impacts or violations; and

(3) Is not protected from the application or enforcement of any other laws, regulations or permits, including the following:

(a) Corrective actions issued under Environment Article, Title 4, Subtitle 4, Annotated Code of Maryland, which addresses, for example, water pollution abatement;

(b) Environment Article, Title 5, Annotated Code of Maryland, which addresses, for example, water resource management including flood control and water appropriations;

(c) Environment Article, Title 9, Subtitle 2, Annotated Code of Maryland, which addresses, for example, water supply systems, sewage systems, refuse disposal, and sewage sludge;

(d) Environment Article, Title 9, Subtitle 3, Annotated Code of Maryland, which addresses, for example, discharge permits;

(e) Environment Article, Title 16, Annotated Code of Maryland, which addresses, for example, wetland protection programs;

(f) Natural Resources Article, Title 8, Subtitle 18, Annotated Code of Maryland, which addresses, for example, land use and protections in the Atlantic Coastal and Chesapeake Bays Critical Area;

(g) Growth tier maps adopted by a local jurisdiction under Land Use Article Title 1, Subtitle 5, Annotated Code of Maryland;

(h) Any State or local law or regulation that regulates the development of land;

(i) The federal Clean Water Act;

(j) Regulations governing the management of agricultural sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment initiated by the Department before the enactment of authorizing legislation for this program, including regulations to revise the phosphorus site index or to implement a phosphorus management tool, regardless of when they are adopted; or

(k) Any applicable laws enacted or regulations adopted prior to certification that are subject to a delayed implementation period.