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E-M:/ Manure spills and dumping in Lenawee, Kalamazoo and Muskegon Counties

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>


How real is the enormous imposition of concentrated animal feeding
operations (CAFOs) to folks who don't live day to day with what goes on in
these facilities?  Twice this weeks, and once last week, from different
places in the state, I got calls from people about the latest insult to
their communities from CAFOs.

One in Kalamazoo County came from a gentleman who works in the agriculture
business, but was absolutely livid and explained to me that what he was
witnessing was NOT farming, it was using fields to dump a waste product.  He
acknowledged the importance of manure as a fertilizer, but said that as
someone who grew up on a dairy farm, he knew the difference.  What he
witnessed in fields next to his farm was a relentless stream of trucks full
of liquified manure coming onto the fields and spraying the manure for many
days until the waste was so thick it had rolled onto a roadway, where they
needed to scrape it off and put up bales of hay to try to contain this
intentional disposal. He guessed the CAFO operator took this step because
they feared being caught, but perhaps they needn't have been concerned --
when  he reported this to the DEQ office he learned that their staff is so
extraordinarily overextended that they didn't know if they could even get
out to look at the mess.  After this gentleman confronted the operator they
moved their waste hauling and dumping operation down the road a piece,
picking up the same approach used nearer his place.

In Muskegon County, a gentleman across the street from a farm field watched
as manure from a CAFO was applied very thickly to the field.  Later the
manure was disked into, an appropriate technique to assure most of it stays
on the land.  Then, almost immediately the spreading of manure started up
again on the same field -- NOT an acceptable practice. Again, this fellow
said it was clearly dumping the waste, not using it to fertilize.

Then, in Lenawee County this week a resident and local activist noticed the
water in a stream stunk to high heaven and was black.  Following the course
of the stream on the maps of the watershed she was able to determine that
waste was flowing around the sides of lagoon at the Van Der Hoff Haley
Street Dairy.  Below is a link to a story in the Lenawee paper that was not
as graphic as what I heard directly.  First, understand that the lagoon,
like, reportedly many lagoons in Lenawee County, is built ON a county drain,
so that any spill is almost guaranteed to flow into the waterways of the
county.  Second, the lagoon was built a huge distance from the buildings it
serves, so the fire hose like pipe that carries the manure wastes down there
stretches an enormous distance.  Whatever the break was was obscured by the
lagoon itself, but it was clear that the pipe either fell short, was broken
or was not properly attached.  The story quotes the operator as saying maybe
20 to 30 gallons was spilled -- a preposterous statement, one would have to
assume, based on the impact in the stream.


These random reports, coming in to our office, give a flavor (perhaps give a
smell) of what is out there -- Michigan officialdom in a state of denial,
while average joes get to do the work of the agencies.

Anne Woiwode

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