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E-M:/ FW: / Vreba-Hoff statements; CAFO issues, etc.... & Free Nitrate Testing TODAY


As a follow-up the posts by Alex Sagady and Rita Jack, list readers should be aware that the MDA and the water supply folks at MDEQ have a large data set on Nitrates in groundwater.  As one would expect, many of the higher values of NO3 in groundwater aquifers are detected in areas where the combination of intensive animal production and sandy soils allows ammonia, nitrite and nitrate to reach the groundwater supply.   The federal drinking water standard for nitrates is 10.0 mg/liter while any detection of 5.0 mg/l or more can be a cause for concern.   MDEQ has some general information on their website at:




Some of these samples may also be tested for E. coli, but as Alex points out, there is no testing for Cryptosporidium or other pathogens.  Nor is there any program to test for antibiotics, bovine growth hormone, and/or their metabolites.  If these are being excreted by the animals, they may also end up in groundwater depending upon the types of Surficial soils, bacteriological activity, etc.  Unfortunately there are no data to evaluate at present.  CAFOs, of course, are not the exclusive sources of this contamination.  Failing domestic septic systems, applications of septage wastes, feral animal populations, broken sewer lines and other sources can cause the same impacts.


I believe that requests for the available monitoring data would have to be directed to the appropriate staff of the water division.   They can be found on the DEQ web site and the local agricultural extension offices may have local data.


 If you are interested in getting your own water supply tested, today may be your lucky day.    As part of “Ag Expo Days” at M.S.U., individuals may get well water samples tested for nitrates and Triazine herbicides (Atrazine, Simazine, and their metabolites) by bringing a sample to tent #26 at the Expo today or tomorrow.  See this link for details.










Thomas K. Rohrer, Director

Environmental Studies Program

318 Brooks Hall

Central Michigan University

Mt. Pleasant  MI  48859

U. S. A.


Ph. (989) 774-4409

email = tom.rohrer@cmich.edu


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world: indeed it is the only thing that ever has!

                     -- Margaret Meade

-----Original Message-----
Alex J. Sagady & Associates [mailto:ajs@sagady.com]
Tuesday, July 22, 2003 5:59 PM
Subject: E-M:/ Vreba-Hoff statement misleads the public


Today's Detroit Free Press contains part 2 of a current series on


The most interest part of the story is the comment of
Steve Vanderhoff of Vreba Hoff farms....  the article states....

" Vanderhoff describes the environmental problems as "a learning curve." He said the dairies once spread manure on farm fields in winter, when the frozen ground allowed manure to run into public drains.

They've stopped that, he said. "

The Freep reporter let Vanderhoff off much too easy.....

The article's mention of Vanderhoff's misleading intimations are right up there with
"I did not have sex with that woman" and G.W. Bush's 16 words
on alleged
Iraq orders of yellowcake from Africa....

Vanderhoff's farm was spreading animal waste as recently as this
past winter and this spreading led to MDEQ enforcement action
because of discharges to surface waters.

If Vanderhoff says this practice has stopped, should he get any
credit for being on a "learning curve" when ceasing such practices was only done because of the imminence of environmental enforcement over recent winter animal waste application practices and waste discharges to surface water this past winter?   I don't think so.  

The Freep needs to get tougher with this kind of misleading statement by polluting CAFO operators.   Missing also from the article is the consequences for nitrate contamination of groundwater from these operations.   Only recently has MDEQ indicated that it intends to enforce groundwater permitting requirements on the combined Vreba Hoff I and II operation.  Also missing from these articles is the fact
that public water supply inlets are located downstream from these CAFO operations.
None of these public water supply systems are capable of filtering cryptosporidium
from animal wastes from such discharges.....you'all do remember what happened
in Milwaukee on this issue?

The whole matter of winter application of animal waste in Michigan has resulted
from Michigan Department of Agriculture and US Department of
Agriculture - Natural Resource Conservation Service encouragement/acquiesence
of/to this practice by adoption of the so-called "Manure Application Risk
Index" decision matrix that does not consider all risk factors and does not
prevent animal waste pollution of rural waterways.   MARI doesn't work, but
it is incorporated in numerous Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans
for these big operations.....

Deposition of animal waste on land at times when plant nutrients do not
take up such animal waste nutrients is nothing more than "waste disposal" and
the romantic plant nutrition fantasy dreams of the Mich Dept. of Agriculture, MSU Comprehensive Nutrient Management trainers/certified preparers, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Michigan Farm Bureau will not change this fact.

The animal waste disposal practices fostered by these institutions through tacit acceptance of poor practices in their guidance documents and in agriculture planning frequently emphasize disposal practices that maximize plant nutrient losses to air, ground water and surface water.   All of these institutions go on and on about "agronomic rates" of animal waste application, when these so-called agronomic rates embody large over applications of critical plant nutrients under many times and circumstances.

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039 
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com