See full list of CAFO Violations - 4,696 confirmed by the Michigan DEQ
report on "America's Industrial Dairy Wasteland" - could be a Michigan CAFO report, but no, this report, from Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP), focuses on Wisconsin's CAFO pollution and the public health crisis in CAFO communities and watersheds. (See Full report, 140 p., 41MB) The report,"The Rap Sheets: Industrial Dairies of Kewaunee County, Wisconsin," documents years of pollution, complaints and agency response to 16 dairy CAFOs . “We should not mince words about this...What we’re talking about are Third World conditions in America’s heartland,” SRAP’s Scott Dye said. Drawing on agency documents, the report indicts Wisconsin's DNR (like our DEQ, charged with overseeing CAFOs) for regulatory failure, concluding its "hand-off approach...has proven to be an abject failure. The agency’s 'all carrots, and no stick' oversight has left county residents with contaminated groundwater, a polluted countryside and a public health emergency."
Pope Francis in "On Care for Our Common Home," speaks forcefully on the enviroment, on climate change, on pollution including "agrotoxins," and on the moral imperative of protecting nature –"our common home." "Everything is connected," he writes. Our world is both enviromental and social, an "integral ecology." Read the full Encyclical Letter. Excerpts below are pertinent to sustainablility, agriculture, and the economic and political actions of authorities, agencies:
Lake Erie microcystis reported – too soon. The Toledo Blade reports that the early arrival of algae puts scientists on alert, following the first report of microcystis this week in Lake Erie. Blooms usually don't appear until August. The most recent (June 15) Harmful Algal Bloom Projection, from Heidelberg Univ and NOAA, notes that, "Earlier this spring had been relatively dry, resulting in less discharge and lower phosphorus loads into the western basin. Recent thunderstorms increased the loads, therefore increasing the potential bloom severity."
What causes Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Lake Erie? See brief but detailed account by scientists with USDA Agricultural Research Service on the role of "larger farms," "manure," "tile drainage," as well as climate change, commodity prices, ethanol production, etc. in Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (April 2015).
Voices throughout the region unite on changes in agricultural practices to protect Lake Erie: The just-released Interim Joint Action Plan for Lake Erie lists a ban on manure and fertilizer on snow-covered and frozen ground as crucial. A June 5 Toledo Blade editorial on the new federal water rule supporting the Clean Water Act details the importance of protecting small tributaries and wetlands that feed drinking water sources (like Lake Erie). As Todd Ambs, the director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, told the Blade, “It’s not called the Partially Clean Water Act.”
May 29 - Update on CAFO VIOLATIONS, WINTER 2015 - DEQ cited Terrehaven CAFO for "an unpermitted discharge of manure laded water to Black Creek" on March 12, 2015, after manure application on snow-covered ground. That week in March saw thaw across Michigan which led to discharges elsewhere too (scroll back in time, down this page to the entry on VDS CAFO discharge in Kalamazoo Co, March 10). Three other CAFOs here – Bleich Dairy, Bakerlads Farm, New Flevo Dairy – also had violations of their CAFO Permits involving application of manure on frozen or snow-covered ground or maintenance of storage structures. For full details and links to DEQ letters, see the Violations List.
FIND THE CAFOS IN YOUR AREA - New Food & Water Watch map of CAFOs, updated to 2012 (with expansions around here continuing through 2015, not included)
Yakima Valley, WA - In a landmark court settlement announced May 11, four Washington State dairy CAFOs must make sweeping changes in their manure operations following a series of lawsuits brought by the Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) and Center for Food Safety.
EPA releases guidelines for algal toxicity levels in drinking water. Good luck this summer, Toledo (and Monroe, MI, and Saginaw Bay water intakes). EPA recommended limits (not water standards), in parts per billion: for children younger than school age, 0.3 ppb for microcystin; for all others, 1.6 ppb for microcystin. Most states with drinking water standards for microcystin set the limit at 1 ppb, using a World Health Organization standard. Michigan and Ohio do not have a drinking water standard for microcystin.
On outlawing CAFOs - in the news this week - head to the courts:
May 4 - DEQ announces 2015 CAFO General Permit, including one revision that imposes (a few) restrictions on CAFOs that manifest, give or sell, waste to others. Recipients applying CAFO waste in the months of Jan, Feb, and March without incorporation must now abide by the same winter rules that apply to CAFOs. Unfortunately, the 2015 CAFO Permit did not change winter application rules for CAFOs. Michigan has not stepped forward – in spite of recommendations from numerous studies, research, the International Joint Commission and others, that to protect Lake Erie, states and provinces must prohibit all manure application on frozen or snow-covered ground. CAFOs in Michigan can still apply on fields that meet certain slope, vegetated cover, etc. requirements. But – as we've seen for years – manure still runs off those fields in sun/thaw/rain/spring melt and still drains through surface inlets to tiles, which flow to streams. And on to Lake Erie.
April 28 - Why buffer strips aren't enough to protect Lake Erie - the form of phosphorus that spurs the growth of cyanobacteria/toxic algae is called dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP, PO4) because it dissolves in water. Dissolved phosphorus, in liquid manure for instance, drains down through soils to sub-surface field tiles and pours from the tile pipes directly into streams (see image below, Carter Dr in Lenawee Co). Buffers on the surface don't stop the dissolved phosphorus flowing underground through tiles. Unfortunately, most Lake Erie funding dollars are going to farmers for buffer strips. Buffers are considered a best management practice (BMP) – and they are, for runoff from the surface of the field. That's good. Buffers do catch another form of phosphorus that's attached to soils and runs off the surface with sediment. But this soil-attached phosphorus isn't the major spur for growth of toxic algae. DRP is. To protect Lake Erie, more serious changes in ag practices will be required for CAFOs: in-field basins or wetlands to capture the tile flow; or better, no liquid manure on tiled fields and municipal-grade waste treatment for CAFO waste; or best of all for our watersheds and for our communities, fewer CAFOs, more farms! with pasture-based livestock production.
April 27 - Regional Petition to EPA - today, ECCCM joined 30 Michigan, Ohio and Indiana environmental, farm, grass-roots and other organizations urging EPA to take a regional approach with actions to protect Lake Erie. The groups petitioned EPA to "designate the western Lake Erie basin as impaired and act without delay to address CAFO-related impacts to the watershed." Barbara Sha Cox, spokesperson for Indiana CAFO Watch, said “This is a vital step in protecting the water. Clean water should be the goal of all residents and farmers." See press release and full letter to EPA.
April 25 - Toledo Blade editorial today, "Saving Lake Erie," supports a recent Lucas County report that calls for designating the Maumee River a distressed watershed, to permit regional action. The report also concludes that "solely voluntary efforts will not clean up Lake Erie; legal mandates with enforcement teeth are necessary." Important actions recommended include "better data collection to monitor both the extent of pollution in the broader Lake Erie watershed and the success of measures to reduce it."
April 23 - draglining liquid manure, trucking solids, spraying, spreading from several CAFOs (see Stench Alerts), including Hoffland Farms CAFO, with dragline apparently crossing Rice Lake Drain, a high-risk practice. (See Rice Lake Drain E. coli issues in post from yesterday.)
April 22 - We're testing the streams near CAFOs here because CAFOs are not. DEQ is not. ECCSCM's 2015 Volunteer Water Monitoring Project has begun, with periodic sampling at 8 sites near 4 CAFOs. All sites are in western River Raisin or eastern Bean Cr watersheds, and all these waters flow to Lake Erie. Test results from sampling on 4-20-15 show two sites of serious concern: Rice Lake Dr at Haley Rd, and Deline Dr Ext at Tomer Rd - both near Hoffland Dairy CAFO facility and/or manure application fields. Water samples from these 2 sites violated Michigan's water quality standards for E. coli (5,900/100mL at Rice Lake Drain; 2,100/100mL at Deline Dr Ext); and both also tested extremely high in Nitrate, Phosphate (PO4), and Ammonia. In fact, EVERY SITE tested extremely high in Phosphate (PO4), the dissolved phosphorus implicated in the toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie. See total data from 8 sites, 4-20-15. Rice Lake Drain has a long history of E. coli contamination (2002-2015), as well as documentation in 2004 of the pathogen Cryptosporidium at this site by MSU and international Cryptosporidium researcher Dr Joan Rose. In spite of this, and a history of violations at Hoffland CAFO, DEQ has not tested this site - and many others of concern - in the last 10 years.
April 15 - Lenawee Co Road Commission signs posted on Forrister Rd, marking road damage between New Flevo Dairy and Skinner Hwy.
April 14 - More stench for neighbors, more liquid manure on wet ground, and more road damage at several locations as manure-tankers continue hauling. More photos/details on Stench Alerts.
April 13 - New Flevo Dairy CAFO draglining with at least 5 tankers hauling to Manitou Rd, with serious road damage on Forrister Rd (see photo).
April 7 - Ohio DNR just now confirmed a manure spill in Paulding Co last month, after application to frozen and snow-covered ground and subsequent melt, with manure reaching Flat Rock Creek, a tributary of the Maumee River/Lake Erie.
April 1 - New aerial photos today show serious concerns for waste management at multiple facilities, including Bleich CAFO pumping manure across the production area (why?), lagoon-to-lagoon-to-tankers. Warner production area shows significant silage runoff. And at Terrehaven CAFO, same as the last 3 years, manure is over-topping the containment barrier at production area, and also over-topping containment at new barns at the back of property, near Black Cr., a tributary of Wolf Cr, a drinking water source for the City of Adrian. See also, at ground level, the surge of CAFO manure applications at several locations.
March 28 - EPA planes are checking CAFOs - See Toledo Blade article on the Great Lakes Symposium in Chicago, with Toledo's "poisonous water" in the spotlight, and Susan Hedman, the EPA’s Midwest regional administrator, announcing her agency "has had inspectors in small planes the last three years looking for manure-management violations by large livestock operations known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs."
March 25 - Ohio passes bill that bans manure on frozen ground - In response to the Lake Erie drinking water crisis, linked in large part to phosphorus flowing from agricultural fields and tiles, the Ohio legislature passed a bill, headed to Gov. Kasich for signing, which "prohibits farmers in northwest Ohio from spreading manure on frozen or saturated fields." Important first step in protecting public health. Now, what about some action in Michigan?
March 20 - Lake Erie Water Conference at Wildwood Metro Park, Toledo, OH, included several presentations on the risk to drinking water from livestock manure and tile-drainage flow, including the ECCSCM presentation on manure data here, and a detailed slideshow by Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager of the Des Moines, Iowa, Water Works, which recently filed a Notice of Intent to Sue several Iowa drainage districts for excess nitrate in Des Moines' drinking water. The nitrates flowing through field tiles and into county drains cost taxpayers millions in additional water treatment costs. See Stowe's full presentation, "Providing Safe Drinking Water in Agricultural Watersheds." Two slides below from his presentation show the extent of sub-surface tile drainage in 2 sq miles in Iowa (same intensive tiling as here, where phosphorus is the concern); and in the Midwest, from Iowa to the western Lake Erie Watershed.
March 11 - massive snow melt continues, with runoff from fields and livestock production areas – Warner Farms, Milk Source's Medina Dairy:
New violations: Terrehaven CAFO, Adrian (River Raisin/Lake Erie Watershed) – 10 years of noncompliance 2005-2015, with production area lacking waste containment; periodic runoff and discharges; compliance schedules not met; manure lagoons not evaluated to see if they meet standards, and other violations. Production area runoff was first noted in Feb 2005. As of Jan 2015, Terrehaven was still out of compliance with a DEQ Violation Notice from Nov 8, 2013 ordering containment of all CAFO production area waste. On Jan 29, 2015, DEQ asked Terrehaven to submit yet another "timetable" for construction of the CAFO waste collection system by May 1, 2015... "To ensure that this issue is addressed in a timely manner." Terrehaven is also still out of compliance with evaluation of waste storage structures and is required, yet again, to submit "a schedule" for the evaluation of the north storage lagoons by March 1, 2015, to bring them up to standards by Aug 1, 2015.
Feb 23 - ON FROZEN AND SNOW-COVERED GROUND - multiple manure applications by Hartland Farms CAFO, Bleich CAFO (2 locations), and Warner Farms (details, photos on Stench Alerts). Of serious concern, with severe cold for two weeks and small tributaries frozen, 2 drains downstream from New Flevo Dairy CAFO and Marowelli Farms are flowing, with unnatural color and foam:
2-23-15 - drain at New Flevo Dairy CAFO, flowing to Wallace Dr, a tributary of Hazen Cr.
Feb 3 - Feb 3 - ON FROZEN AND SNOW-COVERED GROUND - Bakerlads CAFO manure application, again. Details on Stench Alerts.
Jan 28 - 10 points, to protect our waters - Comments to DEQ on draft CAFO General Permit. ECCSCM, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, and Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, jointly submitted extensive comments to DEQ yesterday on the draft CAFO Permit. These Comments were supported by national and regional groups signing on, including The Ecology Center, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Center for Food Safety and others. The Comments focus on 10 important changes for the 2015 CAFO Permit to protect our watersheds, our health, and our Great Lakes. A few points are:
Jan 20 - See details of a multi-year discharge from 14 yrs ago, Jan 2001, just added to Violations list - FOIAed DEQ documents were first seen this week, Jan 2015. Bleich CAFO, Hudson, was cited for a discharge of contaminated stormwater to a tributary of St. Joseph Cr. In a DEQ letter to Bleich CAFO dated Oct 8, 2004 - more than 3 years later! - DEQ reported contaminated stormwater was still draining and discharging to waters of the state.
Jan 16 - See Media Alert from Michigan Chapter Sierra Club, ECCSCM, and Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, on how and when to provide your comments to DEQ on the 2015 CAFO General Permit. Help protect Lake Erie and all of Michigan's watersheds. Ask DEQ to prohibit CAFO waste application on frozen or snow-covered ground at any time, and between Dec 15 and Mar 15, no matter the soil conditions.
Jan 15 - Big news on two fronts today:
Also Jan 15 - ON FROZEN AND SNOW-COVERED GROUND - 2 CAFOs spreading manure: Hartland Farms and Bakerlads, both in Hudson Twp.
Jan 13 - ON FROZEN AND SNOW-COVERED GROUND - Bakerlads CAFO spreading solids just north of the South Branch of the River Raisin, on east side of Morey Hwy, north of Beecher Rd.
Jan 12 - Iowa's largest city sues over farm pollution in rivers - "Des Moines, Iowa, is confronting the farms that surround it over pollution in two rivers that supply the city with drinking water. Des Moines Water Works says it will sue three neighboring counties for high nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. It's a novel attempt to control fertilizer runoff from farms, which has been largely unregulated..." An idea for Toledo?
Jan 2 - FROZEN GROUND - Voluntary compliance? (NOPE) with DEQ's request to CAFOs to stop manure application on frozen or snow-covered ground in Lake Erie Watershed. Two CAFOs here are applying both liquid and solid manures today, on ground frozen solid. New Flevo/Waterland Dairy CAFO is hauling to at least 3 locations: spraying liquid manure just west of the village of Onsted, on a field not included in their CNMP; also spraying liquid manure on Shepherd Rd, east of Pentecost Hwy in Adrian Twp.; and also spreading solids on Forrister Rd, 1/2 mi. east of Wilkinson, with no setback from a tile riser. Elsewhere, north of Hudson, Bleich CAFO is also applying manure on frozen ground. (See Stench Alerts for more details and photos).