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EZregs Makes Sense

by Leanne Lucas

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EZregs makes it easier to find and understand the regulations.

URBANA -- If you're baffled by the myriad of environmental regulations that pertain to agricultural and horticultural operations, help is only a mouse-click away. EZregs, a new website hosted by University of Illinois Extension, can help farm producers, green industry professionals, land use planners and others make sense of environmental regulations in Illinois.

The website can be found at: www.ezregs.uiuc.edu.

"EZregs makes it easier to find and understand the regulations that affect the day-to-day operations of farm producers and other ag and horticultural professionals," said Ted Funk, U of I Extension specialist in agricultural and biological engineering. Funk is one of the co-authors of the website, along with Randy Fonner, Scott Bretthauer and Bruce Paulsrud, all Extension specialists at the U of I.

The EZregs website has a database of 13 sets of regulations, including IEPA Livestock Regulations (Parts 501, 506, 560, 570, & 580), the Livestock Management Facility Act (Section 900), the Illinois Construction Site Stormwater Permit, the Illinois Pesticide Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Historic Resources Preservation Act.

Currently, users of the website can access sections on four different operation types--Livestock Production, Food Crop Production, Ornamental Horticulture Production and Landscape Maintenance. Within these sections, users will find regulations on pesticides and worker safety.

After choosing an operation type, users can scroll through a list of frequently asked questions about that operation. Clicking on any question will pull up all the different regulations pertaining to that question.

As an example, all livestock producers deal with the issue of waste management for their facility. If a producer clicks on the question, "How do I know whether I need a waste management plan for my facility under the LMFA?", sections from the Livestock Management Facilities Act and Rules will explain the purpose, scope and applicability of a waste management plan.

Often the scope of a question will encompass more than one set of regulations, said Funk. "For instance, if a producer wants to build a lagoon, the question 'What are the design standards for a lagoon?' will pull up not only IEPA Livestock Regulations, but also applicable regulations from the Illinois Construction Site Stormwater Permit, the Historic Resources Preservation Act and the Endangered Species Act."

Many of the regulations are followed by an "interpretation block," said Funk. "In other words, we put the information in layman's terms. Here's what this really means, and here's how you are affected."

There is also a glossary section following many of the regulations, with terms of interest that the users might want to refer to, said Funk.

Regular visitors to the website can create an EZregs account for different agricultural or horticultural operations. Users may save the questions that apply to their operation, and this information will be "remembered" each time the user logs in.

The site will be updated on a regular basis, said Funk, and future plans include the addition of the Illinois Noxious Weed Law and the Illinois Drainage Law to the regulations database.

"I think this is one of those web sites that people are going to bookmark as a favorite and return to often," Funk concluded. "There are just too many details in the regulations for anyone to commit to memory; and those are details that can make or break an operation."

Funding for this project was provided by the Illinois Pork Producers Association (through the Pork Checkoff program) and US EPA Region 5.

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