Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organized to educate the public on the health risks and the environmental damage Confined Animal Feeding Operations have brought to our community and its watersheds. We developed this website to provide documentation on the pollution here and to promote Sustainable Alternatives (buy local food & pasture-based meat).
From 1997-2000, 12 CAFOs were constructed or expanded from smaller operations in our area. In 2012, yet another CAFO. And major expansions continue. As family farmers and neighbors, we are concerned about Lake Erie, our drinking water, and the massive risk of liquid manure systems, liquid manure on tile-drained fields. Liquid manure, like rain, can drain to field tiles and discharge to streams, all flowing to Lake Erie. Discharges that violate Michigan's water quality standards are illegal. 12 CAFOs in our area have discharged illegally or violated their CAFO Permits. Since 2000, there have been 1,117 violations and discharges, many of them multiple-day violations, confirmed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in our area (see violations list).
STENCH/EMISSION ALERTS, details, observations, documentation from neighbors on local CAFO air pollution, health concerns
Dec 15 - "Dirty secrets" - DEQ dismisses researchers and citizen concerns about manure nutrients feeding Lake Erie's toxic algae, and slams ECCSCM videos of manure application as a "PR stunt." In a Detroit Free Press article today, DEQ's spokesperson isn't pleased that "a watchdog group spend its time and resources depicting regulated and approved farming practices as though they've exposed some dirty secret." Milk Source's Hudson Dairy CAFO spokesperson agrees and claims current practices are fine, "environmentally sound." Still, the dirty secret is that some current "acceptable" and "approved agricultural practices" don't protect water quality enough, don't protect Lake Erie and drinking water supplies enough, given the increase in toxic algal blooms and the devastating loss of Toledo's drinking water this summer. ECCSCM supports the International Joint Commission recommendation to ban winter application of manure and fertilizer. Ohio Farm Bureau, even, supported that ban recently. To protect Lake Erie, some Michigan agricultural practices are no longer acceptable, and must change.
Dec 10 - Spewing of CAFO waste, diarrhetic ("abnormal frequency and fluidity of fecal evacuations" def. Dictionary.com), continues in Bean Creek Watershed. Milk Source's Hudson Dairy is draglining again, a mile north from Dec 7-8 location in Pittsford Twp.
Dec 7-8 - Milk Source's Hudson Dairy is spraying massive amounts of liquid manure (see video below), same field as Oct 13, Waldron Rd & M-34 west of Hudson. The dump box and tankers are unloading next to a residence, VERY close to the household wellhead (circled in RED below), and directly across the road from the Seventh Day Adventist Church and School. Tractor is draglining as far as the hose will reach; beyond that, tanker-trucks are driving across the field at the far SW end, spraying on a slope so steep the trucks can barely drive up. (See 5 videos on ECCSCM's YouTube channel).
Nov 21 - Manure-contaminated wells - Door Co, Wisconsin - Public meeting scheduled next week, Dec. 2, on replacing well water after manure application Sept 8-9 contaminated well water and sickened 7 people. See recent articles on tracing the contamination (bovine) and struggles to replace residents' well water: Nov 21: article on upcoming meeting; Nov 14: article "Seven sickened by tainted wells." At a meeting of the County Soil and Water Dept on Nov. 19, many of the residents of the contaminated area "reported details of family members getting violently ill, a beloved German shepherd dying, and the many hardships associated with living in a home where you can’t drink, cook with or even bathe in the water."
Nov - Terrehaven CAFO is still not cleaned up. More than a year since DEQ filed an Administrative Consent Order (Nov 6, 2013) against Terrehaven in Adrian, production area runoff is still not contained. The Order cited Terrehaven's violations of Michigan’s water protection law and of the CAFO’s Permit, and required evaluation of storage structures. DEQ also sent a Violation Notice to Terrehaven later in Nov 2013 and again in May 2014 for contaminated runoff from the production area (see details on violations list). After all this time, containment walls around silage and stacked manure still have large gaps. Why doesn't DEQ say, "Build a wall. It's the law. Do it now."
Oct 22 - Bruinsma Dairy CAFO in Morenci is spraying liquid manure in 3 locations - extreme emissions, "horrible, just as bad as you can imagine," and aerosolization from a broad tank spray on Wolf Rd east of North Morenci Rd. See Stench Alerts for more photos.
Oct 18 - A Daily Telegram article today reports Milk Source will close some lagoons at both Hudson and Medina Dairy CAFOs. In the article, Milk Source also responds to the geyser of waste photo taken by ECCSCM last Sunday: "The photo was taken at the end of the application process when the hose was being cleared, said Avi Stern, communications manager for Milk Source...Once the hose-cleaning process was completed, she said, nutrients were properly integrated into the soil."
Sunday, Oct 12 - "Horrendous." Some of the worst draglining/spewing of liquid CAFO waste we've seen around here - Milk Source's Hudson Dairy is geysering waste into the air from an open-ended dragline hose. A best practice? An acceptable practice? Not for neighbors, not for soils, not for water. Rain predicted tonight, tomorrow and Tuesday. The photos show it all (see more on Stench Alerts): the spewing aerosolization, the black field, the ponding of waste.
Oct 1 - The “Land of 10,000 Lagoons” Awards will be presented by Wisconsin's Family Farm Defenders outside the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI this afternoon. See Family Farm Defenders' Facebook page for the complete press release. Excerpts here:
Bulletin: new research on manure and water quality - from Bowling Green State University, a study that provides data for western Lake Erie watersheds on the impact of manure applied on frozen/snow-covered ground and within 12 hours before or after heavy rains. Water samples were taken at three farms, from tiles, surface drainage and drainage ditches after manure was applied, with numerous nutrient and bacteria tests performed. Among other findings, test results show that manure runoff after a heavy rain, or after application to snow-covered and/or frozen ground, increases dissolved phosphorus in the water. Dissolved phosphorus is the culprit in feeding toxic algae in western Lake Erie. From the abstract:"results support the findings of others that conclude that most nutrient and pathogen pollution occurs after large rainstorm events and after manure application on frozen ground." See full study: Horstman, Janelle, "The Effects that Liquid and Solid Cattle Manure Have on the Water Quality of Drainage Ditches in Putnam County, OH" (2014).
Sept 24 - Reports from Chicago meeting on Great Lakes water crisis: EPA Adminisgtrator Gina McCarthy announced the new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II, a broad effort to reduce runoff in Areas of Concern (Maumee River Watershed is one of them) and double the restoration of wetlands. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel hosted the meeting of Great Lakes mayors to discuss ways to protect drinking water in light of a toxic algae bloom that shut down the water system in Toledo in August. The toxic algal threat to drinking water, as detailed in a Detroit Free Press report of the meeting, is "driven largely by a phosphorus overload from agriculture runoff that is plaguing the Great Lakes, from Green Bay, Wis., to Saginaw to the western shore of Lake Erie." Toledo mayor Michael Collins asked for an executive order declaring the Maumee River a "disastrous watershed, and it truly is. I mean the agriculture runoff is incredible." Lana Pollack of the International Joint Commission noted that "environmentalists have been lobbying for years for agricultural phosphorus reductions, to no avail. But she said they may now have some new, powerful allies. 'The voices of change will be most effective,' she said, 'if they come from a public health perspective'."
Sept 4 - BULLETIN: In a Wisconsin case involving high-capacity well permits at Milk Source's Richfield Dairy CAFO, Richfield, WI, a Wisconsin judge ordered that the DNR must consider the cumulative impacts of groundwater pumping when considering new high-capacity well permits. In a suit brought by WI Friends of the Central Sands and others, the court ruled that the DNR “took an unreasonably limited view of its authority” in not considering cumulative impact to ground and surface water levels, and that the public trust doctrine, statutes, and decades of court precedent required DNR to consider cumulative impacts. See Wisconsin Court order; also summary and more details at Friends of the Central Sands.
Sept 2 - worst practice: Hartland Farms CAFO draglining liquid manure in the rain.
Sunday Aug 31 - The Toledo Blade carried two front page articles on CAFO contribution to the toxic algae crisis: [our highlights]
from Stricter rules for agriculture debated - "The greatest concern, though, is how the manure is applied to area farm fields — if the fields are oversaturated by the animal waste at the wrong time. Or if it is spread on frozen fields in the winter, allowing it to flow directly into nearby ditches and streams. Pat Nicholson, who spent decades in the sewage-sludge industry as founder of N-Viro International Corp., questions how concentrated manure becomes after it has broken down in lagoons for months. 'That’s been the key to manure use forever,' Mr. Nicholson said. 'The key word is ‘soluble.’ If you put phosphorus on the land in a soluble [liquid manure] form, it all goes straight into the water."
Local CAFO info below, drawn from ECCSCM Western Lake Erie CAFO Manure database:
Aug 7-11 from Stench Alerts: "Horrendous" emissions over many square miles from Hartland Farms waste applications the last 4 days along Beecher Rd, throughout the weekend. . . Numerous reports to ECCSCM about the stench from neighbors with headaches, nausea, sore throats, burning sinuses. Many people had to close windows Thurs, Fri, Sat nights. Several people had to leave their homes. Extreme emissions continue. MDARD notified, DEQ Air Division notified, also Lenawee County Health Department.
BULLETIN, Aug 2-4: 'Do not drink' water advisory issued for Toledo area - Algal toxin microcystin found in samples
Runoff from agriculture is the major contributor to Phosphorus entering Lake Erie, which feeds the toxic algae. With industrial livestock operations STILL expanding in western Lake Erie watersheds, more trouble lies ahead. When Milk Source reaches capacity, the 13 CAFOs here will have under their roofs more than 34,600 animals, most of them dairy cows, each producing 20X the waste of a human being - waste loaded with Phosphorus. And all in this small area, waste sprayed and spread on fields that drain to Lake Erie. Many voices, national voices, are at last joining researchers and water scientists in calling for action to control ag runoff. Given the urgency, ECCSCM and other groups are re-newing requests to MDARD and DEQ to take a significant first step and prohibit the application of manure on snow or frozen ground. Further action will be needed to prevent liquid manure from entering catch-basins and drainage tiles.
Examples from here: how excess Phosphorus from manure application fields flows to streams — and to Lake Erie where it feeds toxic algae.
#2 - through surface runoff into catch-basins that drain to streams
#3 - manure runoff from frozen or snow-covered fields
FIND THE CAFOS IN YOUR AREA – Click on this Food & Water Watch map
Untreated CAFO waste is liquified with clean groundwater – instantly polluted – then pumped to cesspits or holding "lagoons" until it is pumped again and injected or sprayed onto fields around Hudson (pop. 2500). Some manure makes good fertilizer. But too much manure, especially the liquid manure from CAFOs, is a major pollutant of soils and waterways. Animal manure and and animal carcasses contain many pathogens (disease-causing organisms such as Cryptosporidium, E. coli bacteria, Listeria – see a comprehensive list of pathogens and symptoms posted by the Environmental Protection Agency). These pathogens can threaten human health, other livestock, aquatic life, and wildlife when introduced into the environment.