We’ve all seen the results of manure spills – reeking brown water, fish kills, and floating clouds of toxic blue-green algae.  Cleaning up these manure spills can take decades and costs a small fortune.  What’s more, homeowners and residents near the site of the manure spill find themselves in the middle of what might as well be a toxic waste dump.  The manure and resulting algae pose a risk to public health, and can threaten drinking water supplies.

Rather than just cleaning up after manure spills, we should actively seek ways to prevent them before they contaminate water and sicken local residents.  Right now, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the State Chemist are working on rules that will regulate the storage, distribution, and use of manure.  These rules, if properly constructed, will prevent future spills from occurring.

There are many ways to stop untreated manure from seeping into Indiana’s water resources. For example, riparian zones (heavily vegetated borders between fields and water bodies) can stop small manure spills and naturally absorb agricultural runoff. Setbacks from water bodies and flood plains can prevent flooding – a very common problem in Indiana – which sweeps manure out of manure pits and into our waterways.

HEC will fight for proper manure management and stronger setbacks, not just from water resources but also from schools and homes.  Proper management of manure should incorporate best management practices that are known to reduce the spread of disease and includes nutrient limits to prevent outbreaks of algal blooms.  Setbacks should be stringent enough and to ensure that rural residents are not at risk from noxious odors and harmful gases emitted by manure lagoons and land-applied manure, and to prevent runoff into rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.

In order to protect ourselves – and stop manure spills from occurring – we need you to add your voice to our comments.  Versions of these rules will be released later this month, and we will testify for the strongest possible regulations to keep manure where it belongs. Email Falon French at ffrench@hecweb.org if you would like to sign on to our comments to help give them weight as we fight for cleaner air, safer water, and a healthier countryside.

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6 comments

  1. Cherry Delaney @ 2010-07-13 17:36

    I am concerned with the damage that manure run-off causes to our waterways and the fish in them. Please enact laws that help prevent the serious damage this causes and the countless waste of money to attempt clean up of them. It is important for our health to be better stewards of the water that flows through our state.

    Cherry Delaney

  2. Justin Moore @ 2010-07-28 17:00

    A great alternative to concentrated cattle operations is to simply pasture. Then the manure is spread equitably on the land where it can decompose naturally and fertilize the ground. This in turn allows for better pasturing. Can the oversight rules, regulation or laws encourage pasturing, through subsidies for example?

  3. mbennett @ 2010-07-28 17:37

    Justin, we hope you’ll join us on August 5th for our free webinar on factory farms. We would love your thoughts on this topic. You can find more information and registration links on our events page.
    Thanks!

  4. We had a CAFO expansion close to us a couple of years back. Both my neighbor and I emailed Becky Skillman about it and she came to our area. She passed withing half-a-mile of us (not stopping) and went directly to the CAFO’s ground breaking ceremony. She referred to the people who damaged a stream, damaged a well, and gave a figure for total water usage that averaged out to only one ounce of water a day per cow as an “inspiration to other farming families”.

  5. Mike, we unfortunately hear a lot of stories like this. Has the expansion already been permitted, or do you still have time to appeal the decision?

    I’d like to talk to you about this particular facilities; feel free to call me when you have a free minute at 765-430-0979.

  6. Falon, this was a couple of years back. When they asked to hear anyone opposing it, they only wanted to hear one person and they acted like they weren’t interested in what he had to say.

    I went to show some info to one of the commissioners, just for her to immediately (and rudely) cut me off and walk away. Since then, this CAFO’s expansion came to a halt. I’m betting that they’re going under (financially).

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