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E-M:/ DEQ biosurvey of streams near CAFOs

DEQ just released the final report on their Biosurveys of 15 sites in tributaries near two CAFOs (Vreba-Hoff 1 and 2) and other streams in the Bean/Tiffin watershed.  The major finding is significant impairment of Durfee Creek and Medina Drain, both in Medina Twp, Lenawee Co, near Vreba-Hoff 1, which was the first CAFO constructed, in 1997, and so has the longest history of liquid manure application draining to those streams.  

Medina Drain was just added to Michigan's 303(d) list of impaired waters.  

The DEQ biosurvey report concludes "the headwater portions of Durfee Creek and the Medina Drain are significantly impaired, and that the nature of these impairments is consistent with excessive nutrient inputs, such as animal waste entering these streams on a common basis."  The report also notes that "a local volunteer monitoring group in the Bean/Tiffin watershed has been monitoring common water quality parameters on area tributaries including Durfee Creek and the Medina Drain (see www.www.nocafos.org  ) ...the data, as posted on their Web site, is consistent with the findings of this study effort."

The DEQ biologists also took sediment samples in the Medina Drain and found "relatively high concentrations of Syrphidae (syrphus sp[Diptera]), an insect that is only found in the presence of significant and persistent concentrations of animal waste."  

We had provided DEQ with possible good quality stream stretches for comparison (St. Joseph Creek, which flows through my farm) -- and the report documents how good the water quality is in that stream, and how poor the water quality is in comparable streams near CAFOs.  "St. Joseph Creek provided representative data of a least-impacted stream within an approximate ten-mile radius.  This stream contained a diverse macroinvertebrate population that was rated as excellent."  

Another important point in the report concerns the damage that extreme drainwork does to aquatic systems -- the report does not connect drainwork to CAFOs.  But we've all seen it, with the coming of CAFOs has come the industrialization of the landscape near them, and destruction of water resources and aquatic habitat, with clear-cutting of trees and removal of vegetation from streambanks, dredging of substrate.

Copies of the full report are available from DEQ Water Division. Title: "Biological Surveys of Tributaries in the Vicinity of Two CAFOs in the St. Joseph and Bean/Tiffin Watersheds, Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties, Michigan"

--Janet Kauffman
Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan