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
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,
318 Brooks Hall
Central Michigan University
Pleasant MI 48859
U. S. A.
email = firstname.lastname@example.org
"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
From: Alex J. Sagady
& Associates [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 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
"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
None of these public water supply systems are capable of filtering
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
prevent animal waste pollution of rural waterways. MARI doesn't
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
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
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
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); firstname.lastname@example.org