Resources like CWAC, CWA, can only help the HAB cause.

I recently joined a terrific organization, Clean Water Action Council (CWAC) of Northeast WI, which provides superb content for anyone interested in clean water in Wisconsin – in all its forms. Ground, surface, non-point (runoff from communities and agriculture, etc.), and more. For 31 years, CWAC has been working to support legislature, and calling attention to issues that have an impact on clean water in and around Green Bay, WI, including the Fox River Valley, Kewaunee County, and Door County.

CAFO operation - Kewaunee County, WI
CAFO operation – Kewaunee County, WI

Since this area of the Midwest is one that is deeply – and seemingly negatively –  impacted by a wild increase in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), CWAC is a great example of a local group making a difference, and they are not alone.

Indeed, on its site CWAC offers information links and tools that can even extend beyond its target area. An example:

Who are your local water polluters?

Two national websites provide detailed data about pollution sources in local communities. Just type in your zip code and you may find more than you really wanted to know!

The Scorecard, by Environmental Defense http://www.scorecard.org/

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency http://iaspub.epa.gov/triexplorer/tri_release.chemical

For more information: http://dnr.wi.gov/wnrmag/html/stories/2003/feb03/pbde.htm

On a national level, Clean Water Action (CWA) works to promote clean water and a healthy environment, via its network of state organizations.

What does it all mean? Good news — and terrific resources —  for any interested in becoming involved with, or educated about, clean water initiatives.

HAB Activity? Follow The Herd ….

I got curious today, after considering poor Toledo, Ohio’s ongoing battle with Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) in its Western Lake Erie drinking water source. And so, I posed a question: In OH, and WI, where are the preponderance of HABs? And, accordingly, where is the heaviest dairy production?

At the risk of making you, the reader, dig deep to find the information I gathered, I am going to here and now provide you with links to my reference articles:

Western Lake Erie Algae Bloom Projections

2007 State of OH Concentration of accepted Dairy Farm Permits (>700 cows)

Milk Production By County, Wisconsin, 2014

Toxic Algae Blooms On The Rise

And now, the unsurprising results from this search: wherever HABs are most impactful on a large scale (see: Toledo; see: The Green Bay of Lake MI), the largest presence of dairy cows and

UW-Milwaukee Students Sample Green Bay Waters
UW-Milwaukee Students Sample Green Bay Waters

milk production are either already dominant within the state (WI) — or are trending heavily in that direction (OH).

If best-practice standards for farmers remain marginally regulated, and farm operation regulations pale in comparison to what is required from municipalities, HABs will become an increasingly regular event with corresponding intensity.

In other words … this crappy situation is only going to get worse.

 

Net Result of Farm Runoff? Algae Blooms.

As 2016 has meandered through its Spring and Summer months, various parts of the USA have demonstrated once again the all-too-familiar relationship between Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB) and agriculture.

The consistent and major culprit: farm runoff. This impressive study (2014) conducted by a consortium of State of Ohio Agencies comprehensively presents the impact of runoff as it exports excessive levels of phosphorus into waterways which eventually flow into lakes like Lake Erie (OH & MI), or Lake Okeechobee (FL), or Utah Lake (UT), or Pyramid Lake (CA).

A costly source of revenue
A costly source of revenue

It has been suggested to me, by various primary and secondary expert sources in WI and OH, that farm runoff from unregulated farms contributes 60% or more of the phosphorus load that creates HABs. I have thus far been given no quantifiable reason to question that estimate. In fact, I am inclined to move the figure higher still.

In an upcoming article I will discuss the disproportionate amount of manure a dairy farm with as few as 500 cows can create, in comparison with a city of people. Suffice to say, if I told you one cow on an unregulated farm can generate 1000 times more waste than one person living in a municipality with a satisfactory waste treatment system — well, that number is probably conservative.

And shocking.