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E-M:/ Sierra Club Launches Water Quality Monitoring Project Near Animal Factories

Enviro-Mich message from "Daniel Farough" <daniel.farough@sierraclub.org>

Media Release from the Sierra Club Water Sentinels Project

Tuesday, July 30, 2002 					Contact:    Rita Jack or Dan Farough
For Immediate Release					517-484-2372



Volunteer “Water Sentinels” Will Begin Monitoring Water Quality Downstream
of Animal Factories

Lansing, MI:  On Tuesday July 30, the Sierra Club launched the “Water
Sentinel” project – a volunteer based initiative that will begin monitoring
water quality downstream of animal factories.  The project is being started
in light of the State of Michigan’s failure to proactively monitor water
quality in streams surrounding animal factories.  The project will be
spearheaded by impacted residents near concentrated animal feeding
operations (CAFOs).  Monitoring will begin in the coming weeks in hotspots
around the State.  “It’s been over six months since the State agreed to
proactively inspect CAFOs, and years since the problem first materialized,
and they haven’t even begun to train their staff.  We’re taking the matter
into our own hands because people being impacted by animal factory pollution
can’t wait any longer.” said Rita Jack, coordinator of the Sierra Club’s
Water Sentinels Project.

In a January agreement in which environmental groups forced the Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to begin issuing clean water
permits for animal factories, the state promised in a letter to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency that they would begin proactive inspections
of CAFOs.  Six months later, the inspections have not begun.  “We can’t have
more foot-dragging from MDEQ,” said Janet Kauffman, a resident near Hudson
who has been fighting the problem for over 2 years.  “This problem is
getting out of control.”

Volunteers will take samples of water from streams and ditches downstream
from animal factory operations, and then take them to a certified lab to
have them analyzed for E. coli bacteria.  High E. coli bacteria levels make
water unsafe for human contact.  Rule 62 of the Michigan Water Quality
Standards (Part 4 of Act 451) states that waters of the state which are
protected for total body contact recreation must meet limits of 130
Escherichia coli (E. coli) per 100 milliliters (ml) as a 30-day average and
300 E. coli per 100 ml at any time.  The limit for waters protected for
partial body recreation is 1000 E. coli per 100 ml of water.  A hand-held
meter will be used to measure dissolved oxygen levels, an indicator of
habitat quality for fish and other aquatic species.  The water quality


standard for dissolved oxygen in Michigan is 5 mg/L or higher.  At 3 mg/L or
lower, fish die.  Results will be reported to both the Michigan Department
of Environmental Quality and to the USEPA and submitted to EPA’s STORET

Members of Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan
(ECCSCM) Janet Kauffman, Kathy Melmoth, and Lynn Henning regularly monitor
water quality around nine dairy CAFOs in Lenawee County.  All nine
facilities have now had violations that have been documented by the group
over the last 3 years.  Six of the 11 sites sampled on July 9 tested at 10
times the state’s water quality standard for E. coli.  “Our streams are
being degraded, and it’s happening fast,” said Kauffman.  “We’ve got as much
untreated waste as the city of Toledo, right here.  This is liquid waste,
and it flows through soils and downstream.”

Bacteria-laden water can leach into groundwater and can be transported by
overland flow, and can cause disease in humans.

The Sierra Club Water Sentinels Project will train water volunteer monitors
to carry the project to new areas of the state where water quality is

Initial target areas include:

·	Butts Creek and Rattail Creek in the Chippewa River watershed near
Barryton in Mecosta County
·	Deer Creek and Crockery Creek in Grand River watershed near Coopersville
and Sparta, MI
·	Little Rabbit River and Red Run in the Kalamazoo River watershed in
Allegan County

“The Sierra Club Water Sentinels will continue to expand this project until
the state starts doing its job,” said Jack.  Jack was brought on board to
coordinate the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels water quality monitoring
project as part of Sierra Club’s larger effort to make animal factories
responsible for the pollution they generate.  She can be reached at


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