Water Quality Concerns
Badgerwood CAFO location (red badge in map above). Note the proximity to the streams flowing into the point pictured in the photo on the left.
The Badgerwood LLC CAFO is less than eight miles upstream from Lake Superior, in the Fish Creek Watershed. It stands to reason, given the massive amount of liquid manure produced by the facility (10 million gallons) and the predominantly clay soils in the area, water pollution caused by run-off is a nearly certain outcome. Lake Superior holds 10 percent of the world's fresh water and is a global resource. Given the polluting track record of the CAFO industry, siting a facility with 26,000 hogs, or any large scale factory farm, in the Lake Superior Basin is an irresponsible idea.
- The City of Ashland's Source Water Assessment was completed by the Wisconsin DNR in 2003 and the report states, "Located in Eastern Bayfield and Northern Ashland Counties, Ashland’s source water area is over 200 square miles. It includes land drained by the Bono Creek, Boyd Creek, Fish Creek, Baycity Creek and multiple unnamed tributaries to Chequamegon Bay. Clay soils predominate throughout causing erosion and runoff problems. Land cover is mostly naturally vegetated with some agriculture and the cities of Ashland and Washburn being the only major urban areas.....As with most surface water systems, Ashland’s source water is impacted by the source water area and highly susceptible to contamination. This is due to the confined nature of Chequamegon Bay and erodible soils and land uses found in the source water area. Contaminants of greater concern to Ashland’s source water include microbial, volatile organic and synthetic organic contaminants as well as precursors of treatment by-products.
- Run-off from factory farms affects water in a variety of ways: it adds ammonium, nitrates, and phosphorous to downstream bodies of water, downstream lakes and reservoirs experience algae blooms, and depleted oxygen and rivers are impacted by excessive salinity, turbidity (from sediment), and toxicity. (http://lawreview.vermontlaw.edu/files/2013/08/14-Laitos-Ruckriegle.pdf)
See also Agroecology 101 and Pork Chops, Carrying Capacity & Cumulative Effects in the Learn section of this website.
- Green Bay has a ‘dead zone’, roughly a third of the bay from around Dyckesville to Sturgeon Bay. A dead zone refers to an area that can't support fish, plant life and other aquatic organisms because of a lack of oxygen. Its causes have been traced to runoff from factory farms in the area that dumps phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients into the water, promoting algae blooms. (http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/09/20/bring-life-dead-zones-bay/15916839/)
- According to WisconsinWatch.org, “As of June 2013, 31 percent of the wells (in Kewaunee County) had tested as unsafe due to nitrates or bacteria, with individual townships ranging from 14 to 51 percent.” Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Boldt declared, in his decision in the water pollution permit challenge by residents of Kewaunee County, that there has been "a massive regulatory failure to protect groundwater.” (http://wisconsinwatch.org/2014/10/judge-blames-toxic-kewaunee-county-wells-on-massive-regulatory-failure/)
- On January 14th, a federal court in Washington ruled that manure is a solid waste. The judge ruled that the pollution caused by Cow Palace posed an "imminent and substantial endangerment" to the environment and to people who drink the water. He also wrote that he "could come to no other conclusion than that the Dairy's operations are contributing to the high levels of nitrate that are currently contaminating — and will continue to contaminate ... the underlying groundwater." (http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/288714731.html)
- Des Moines Water Works is suing Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties in federal court to force them to clean up the water that drains from farms and reaches rivers used for drinking water. The Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers provide drinking water for 500,000 citizens and are experiencing high levels of nitrates. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-water-utility-weighs-suing-counties-over-agricultural-runoff-1420759990)
- Kewaunee County, in northeastern Wisconsin, is home to 200 dairy farms and 15 dairy CAFOs– 80,000 cows producing an equivalent amount of waste equal to 1.6 million humans. And all that manure is causing a lot of problems. According to WisconsinWatch.org, “As of June 2013, 31 percent of the wells (in Kewaunee County) had tested as unsafe due to nitrates or bacteria, with individual townships ranging from 14 to 51 percent.”