Pollution: Coming to a Waterway Near You?
The health of many waterways, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes—and the livelihoods, flora, and fauna they support— are in jeopardy. But a new rule expected from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to target one of the greatest threats to some of these watersheds: manure from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
CAFOs often house thousands of animals and generate tons of manure. That waste is commonly spread on farmland as a nutrient-rich fertilizer, but it often is in quantities too high for crops to use. Because of poor federal controls, those excess nutrients seep into waterways, causing algae blooms and fish kills, and can put human health at risk.
Permits under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) are the best means of monitoring manure management and preventing problems, but they have been used ineffectively for CAFOs in the Chesapeake region and across the country. Currently fewer than half of the CAFOs in the United States have permits that would help ensure that manure is managed properly. This must change.
The EPA is considering a new rule to help control CAFO pollution nationwide. Such a rule, requiring more CAFOs to obtain CWA permits and to take responsibility for proper management of all the manure they generate, would significantly help to improve the health of many waterways and ensure that all pollution sources do their share to clean up.
Click on the images below to see what Americans are saying about CAFO pollution and why action must be taken now to stop it. Then visit www.CAFOpollution.org to find out what you can do to help move this rule forward.
“The Chesapeake Bay is absolutely central to the livelihood and culture of our region, and as a kid, I explored its rivers and marshes. For that reason, I am, as a small farmer, proud to be part of the local foods movement in our region. I recognize the challenges of larger-scale agriculture, but I believe a strong CAFO regulation will help allow the bay to thrive again. I would love to leave the bay better than we found it for future generations.” — Andrew Bell, Owner, Manna Organic Farm, Seaford, DE
“Being in the museum / tourism industry, I see the increasing threat to Delmarva's estuaries. Southern Delaware's economic strengths come from the tourism dollars spent each year from our guests, who appreciate the value of our maritime heritage and our undeveloped and protected coastal treasures. As a shipwreck diver, I am continually reminded of the hazard that unregulated runoff is causing by agricultural industries, such as CAFOs, along the Delaware and Chesapeake bays. This threat has to be addressed with a strong Bay rule to ensure the preservation of our heritage for future generations.” — Dale W. Clifton, Director, DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum, Fenwick Island, DE
Donna M. & Shawn Witmer
"I care about my family and want to ensure that our children and future generations have clean water. Here in Ohio, CAFOs are a major source of pollution for our state's waterways. We need to protect our lakes, rivers, and streams, and we need to know the threats that CAFOs present. A strong rule to protect the Chesapeake Bay will not only benefit that national treasure, but it will also serve as a model for other important areas like the Great Lakes and beyond." — Donna M & Shawn Witmer, business owners, Lakewood, OH
“As a farmer who has raised millions of broiler chickens and thousands of veal calves, I understand the importance of good manure management systems to protect our environment and public health. If a Chesapeake Bay rule provided guidance to CAFOs on better waste practices, it could help farmers like me across the country.” — Ed Gorell, livestock farmer, Eleva, WI
“Hobos Restaurant and Bar supports green and responsible local farmers first and then outsource as little as possible further afield. We have contracted with dozens of local farmers to buy their produce throughout the season providing a livelihood and much-needed consistent sales outlet for many small-family and start up farms. The Chesapeake Bay region is our backyard as well as our livelihood and our children's inheritance. Restaurant owners and chefs like me have a huge impact on the community by being as organic, clean, and green as we possibly can. A strong CAFO rule will ensure that the Chesapeake Bay is protected, and the playground of the capital still has local, sustainable food on the menu.” — Gretchen Hanson, Executive Chef, Hobos Restaurant and Bar, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Jean and Gene Reed
"Our family enjoys fishing together, and we understand the importance of clean lakes and rivers. A healthy environment is critical to thriving fish, wild animals, recreational pursuits, and local businesses. We do our part to enjoy nature responsibly, and it's up to all of us to protect waterways from pollution. A strong rule to protect the Chesapeake Bay from CAFO pollution would be a model for those of us in Wisconsin and across the country who enjoy clean lakes and rivers." — Jean and Gene Reed, avid hunters and fishers, Eagle River, WI
"Here at Jonathan's Harbor Special Events Foods, we travel to festivals and events all around the Chesapeake Bay selling seafood like blackened shrimp and scallop kabobs to residents and tourists. We see first hand how the Chesapeake Bay fuels the economy in the mid-Atlantic. Everyone, including CAFO operators, must do their part to ensure our Chesapeake has a healthy future. A stronger CAFO Bay rule will help keep the Chesapeake clean and our economy healthy." — John Atwood, Owner, Jonathan's Harbor Special Events Foods, Stone Harbor, NJ
Larry and Vickie Askins
"Lake Erie and other waters are in crisis largely due to toxic algal blooms caused by excessive nutrients. Although manure runoff is suspected as one of the major sources of the phosphorus that feeds the algae, some states like Ohio have failed to set nutrient pollution standards that adequately regulate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. With no enforceable water quality standards, state-CAFOs are permitted to apply massive amounts of untreated waste directly onto tiled farm fields, some of which are already saturated with nutrients. The time has come to stop the nutrient pollution, not find ways around it or cover it up. We have only one beautiful planet and we all have a responsibility to protect it for our children and grandchildren. We need a strong rule to serve as an important model for protecting the Great Lakes and other bodies of water across the country.” — Larry and Vickie Askins, concerned grandparents, Cygnet, OH
"Our future depends on healthy food, clean water, clean air and productive soil, and industrial livestock operations put all of that at risk. A strong Bay rule is an important first step in protecting waters across the country from CAFO pollution.” — Lynn Henning, farmer, grandmother and Goldman Environmental Prize Winner, Clayton, MI
“As a recreational boater, I know the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay is important to a wide variety of activities. The Chesapeake Bay is an important resource, and reasonable steps must be taken to protect it from unnecessary pollution. We must all do our part as stewards of our natural resources, including CAFO operations. Strong CAFO rules are critical to ensuring that future generations and businesses can enjoy the beauty of our bays." — Rob Dick, recreational boater, Wilmington, DE
"Among the few things about which I am passionate is canoeing the Pocomoke River, a spectacularly beautiful waterway that winds through dense cypress forests, mostly undisturbed by human activity, to its mouth in the Chesapeake Bay. But just beyond its cypress margins are thousands of acres of concentrated animal feedlots and the grain and soybean fields that support the poultry industry, all proven sources of pollution that threaten the Pocomoke and the life on it that I love. A strong rule is essential to protecting the Bay from pollution, including from CAFOs." — Ron Pilling, Owner, Pocomoke River Canoe Company, Bishopville, MD
"Back in the day, when we farmed humanely, locally and in balance with nature, concerns about how chicken poop impacted our water supplies were unwarranted. Now, with mega-factory farms with tens of thousands of chickens crammed into condensed spaces, there is a serious cause for concern! Our worries now include not just those of the imbalance of waste product to acreage and waterways, but the chemicals fed to those chickens, and where those toxins end up. A rule to address CAFOs in the Chesapeake Bay is a desperately needed first step in protecting people and our environment from factory farm pollution, and we need this protection immediately." —Sybil Cypress, outdoor enthusiast, Hapeville, GA
"As a kid growing up in my dad'sshop on the water in Leipsic, Delaware, fishing has been a part of my life nearly every single day. There is no one who understands the importance of clean and healthy bays better than me and my family. A clean bay not only helps our business but it is something that I feel lucky to enjoy on a regular basis with my dad, brother, and nephews. Everyone, from small-business owners like my family, to large CAFO operations, should take a stand and do their part to preserve this treasure." — Tyler Smith, Owner, Smith's Bait Shop, Dover, DE