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E-M:/ CAFOs and degraded Lake Erie headwaters

This morning Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM) filed a complaint with DEQ, after 6 tributaries flowing from Vreba-Hoff Dairy CAFOs violated Michigan's water quality standard for Dissolved Oxygen.  

These 6 headwaters tributaries in Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties all flow to Bean Creek (Maumee basin, Lake Erie).

At 2 sites, DO levels were the lowest they have ever been (0.8 mg/L, 0.4 mg/L), in all the years of our sampling.  The Michigan water quality standard for DO is 5.0 mg/L or higher; 3.0 mg/L or lower is considered fish-kill level.

Given the extremely low DO in these streams, we sampled two control sites, similar headwaters of Bean Creek, with no CAFOs upstream. At both control sites, the DO was 6.1 mg/L.

ECCSCM requested that DEQ sample the liquids used in Vreba-Hoff spray-irrigation.  After multiple violations in the past, the CAFO recently was ordered to install a partial waste treatment system to reduce water pollution.  Solids are separated from liquid waste, with solids composted. The liquids, however, are sprayed on fields. These liquids are not tested for pathogen or nutrient contamination.  Rather than improving water quality, recent liquid-spraying practices seem to be further degrading these headwaters tributaries.

-Janet Kauffman