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Re: E-M:/ Hog farming and wetlands



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Enviro-Mich message from "Thom Peterson" <PetersonT@grps.k12.mi.us>
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Robert, et.al.

The Ottawa County Planning Commission has initiated three experiments regarding constructed wetlands. Seems like one was for single family, one for a farm, and one for a dumping station--like honey wagons or RVs. At least some of these were supposed to begin operation in 1999, although there was discussion of finding funds. 

One contact would be Mark Knudsen, Planning & Grants Director, 616-846-8380. Another would be Bob Rinck, District 1 Commissioner, 616-677-3422. Bob is an elected County Commissioner from Talmadge Township and serves on the Planning Commission. He took a special interest in the reed bed idea and was among those visiting sites in Northern Indiana back in '97 or '98.

I think the idea ought to be pursued. See John Todd's Living Machines. Cleaning water with plants might be cheaper and more effective than our present day sewage treatment plants. Small cities like Scottville have big problems and need all the help they can get. 

On the other hand, I have my suspicions about a technology that might permit more residential development on soils that don't "perc." It is a two-edged sword and unless townships have good zoning to protect environmentally sensitive lands, it could lead to further loss of wetlands as open space and wildlife habitat. 

As far as the CAFO problem goes, SB205 has been passed and the nebulous, toothless GAAMPs do nothing to protect neighbors or groundwater, so we have to do something. The Catch 22 of bad legislation is that it allows activity that will cause problems that now have to be addressed by other means.--the fact that legislators chose to ignore the created problems not withstanding. To say that an innovative technology such as reed bed sewer treatment ENABLES factory farms, is, I think, less accurate than to say it mitigates the negative impact.

This last may be more than you asked for, but I hope the OCPC contacts can get you started on some research. Good luck.

Thom Peterson
West Michigan Environmental Action Council


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