Today's biggest threat to our water

When most people think of water pollution, they picture BP’s drilling rig gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, or old discharge pipes spewing chemicals or sewage into our rivers and streams. Research shows, however, that today one of the biggest threats to our water is how big corporations are running — and ruining — many of America’s farms. 

Factory farms crowd too many animals into one place with no place to put all their waste. Other corporate agribusinesses are spreading too much fertilizer and too many chemicals onto the land. And they’re taking too little care to keep all of this manure and other pollution out of our water.

The consequences include an enormous bloom of toxic algae in Lake Erie that contaminated the drinking water for 500,000 people in Toledo; 100,000 miles of American rivers and streams that are now too polluted for swimming, drinking, and/or other uses; and huge biological “dead zones” from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico in which no life can survive.

That's why we’re working to reveal America’s next top polluter: Because once people know the truth, they will demand change.

How heavy is the toll that corporate agribusiness imposes on our water?

  • Each year, factory farms produce millions of tons of manure  more than the sewage produced by the entire U.S. population. 
  • According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agriculture is "one of the largest sources of pollution" for more than 100,000 miles of rivers and streams in the United States, along with 2,500 square miles of lakes and 2,900 square miles of estuaries. 
  • These waters are so polluted that they are unsafe for fishing, swimming, and/or wildlife. 

This agribusiness pollution is a leading cause of the dead zones that plague waters from the Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.

Agribusiness pollution is so severe that it is beginning to threaten our drinking water as well:

  • In Ohio, runoff from agribusiness operations contributed to a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie which contaminated the drinking water for 500,000 people around Toledo with cyanotoxins in 2014. 
  • In Iowa, nitrate pollution from agribusiness operations have so badly polluted the Raccoon River that Des Moines is now suing three counties for failing to stop contamination of its main drinking water source.

From manure runoff to direct dumping

Agribusiness pollution runs throughout the industry’s operations  from factory farm manure to fertilizer and pesticide runoff from fields to direct dumping from processing plants.

Factory farms concentrate so many animals in one location that the volume of manure is virtually impossible to keep out of the water.

By and large, the practices needed to curb this pollution are well known  including buffer zones, cover crops, reduced fertilizer use, and holding factory farms accountable for every pound of poop they generate. But these big companies won’t stop polluting unless the public demands it.

It's time to reveal the truth

Unfortunately, few people really know about how corporate agribusiness is polluting our waterways.

Before we can press corporate agribusinesses to change or our elected officials to force them to change, we need to educate the public — to get people to make the connection between megafarms and water pollution in the same way they do with big oil or big chemical companies or big pipelines or big sewage plants.

That’s why we need you help to reveal America’s next top polluter. 

 

Clean Water Updates

News Release | Wisconsin Environment

EPA Proposes Biggest Step for Clean Water in a Decade

Madison, WI - Today, in the biggest step forward for clean water in more than a decade, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that leave 53% of Wisconsin’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands at risk of unchecked pollution and development. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Wisconsin Environment

Report Connects Political Influence of Big Ag with Polluted Waterways in Wisconsin

Madison, WI – As more and more of Wisconsin’s lakes suffer from pollution at the hands of industrial agriculture, a new report by Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center reveals the political influence of the agribusiness lobby and its role in weakening Wisconsin’s clean water protections. In the last decade, the number of permitted factory farms in Wisconsin has more than doubled, and the agencies charged with enforcing the state’s clean water standards have allowed for the rapid growth of industrial farming.

 

> Keep Reading
Report | Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center

The Power to Pollute

Factory farms are polluting Wisconsin’s treasured waterways. Runoff laced with pollution from animal manure contaminates the state’s lakes and rivers, and the number of factory farms in the state is rapidly increasing. The agencies charged with keeping Wisconsin’s water clean have issued more and more water permits to industrial farming operations every year, even though livestock operations have already polluted thousands of acres of lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Wisconsin Environment

Wisconsin Environment Applauds Nomination of Gina McCarthy for EPA Administrator

Madison, WI — Today, President Obama nominated Gina McCarthy for the next administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, replacing outgoing Administrator Lisa Jackson. McCarthy is currently the assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the EPA, and previously held top environmental positions in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Megan Severson, state advocate for Wisconsin Environment, issued the following statement in response:

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed