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 | Environment Washington

New State Provision Addresses Lead in School Drinking Water

Environment Washington and WashPIRG hailed a new provision in the state’s budget that directs the Department of Health (DOH) to develop guidance for schools to take action whenever lead in water exceeds 1 part per billion.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Washington

Proposed Clean Water Rule Repeal Risks Drinking Water for More Than 2 Million Washingtonians

On June 27, 2017, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt proposed repealing the Clean Water Rule, which restored federal protections to half our nation’s streams and thousands of wetlands across the country. Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Director, issued the following statement:

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Washington

Coalition urges state leaders to address lead in school drinking water

Environment Washington and coalition of organizations is calling on state budget leaders to include a state budget provision that would direct the WA State Department of Health (DOH) to develop guidance and recommendations for schools to take action to reduce lead when test results exceed the maximum level recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and recommendations for communicating test results to parents and the community, including that there is no safe level of lead in water, as the science makes clear.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Washington

State Senate Narrowly Misses Chance to ‘Get the Lead Out’ of Schools, Preschools

The Washington State Senate narrowly missed an opportunity on Wed, March 8th, to protect Washington schoolchildren from lead in drinking water. Senators were considering a bill (SB 5745) that would have required water utilities to remove lead service lines (LSL) at schools and early childhood programs within three years and all lead service lines in the state by July 1st, 2030. The bill was not brought forward for a vote by Senate leadership before the March 8 policy cutoff.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

Get the Lead Out

Given the high toxicity of lead to children, the most health-protective policy is simply to “get the lead out” of our schools and pre-schools.  This involves pro-actively removing lead-bearing parts from schools’ drinking water systems – from service lines to faucets and fixtures – and installing certified filters at every tap used for drinking or cooking.  While all this prevention work cannot all happen at once, schools should immediately begin regular and proper testing of all water outlets used for drinking or cooking and promptly remove from service those outlets where lead is detecte

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed