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).
In recent years (1997-2012), 13 CAFOs – most of them dairies – were constructed or expanded from smaller operations in our area. Major expansions continue. Dairy CAFOs confine 700 or more cows, often several thousand cows, in warehouse-size steel barns, year-round. 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 EPA's comprehensive list of pathogens and symptoms). These pathogens can threaten human health, other livestock, aquatic life, and wildlife.
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, which drain to streams. All streams here flow to Lake Erie. Contaminated flow that reaches a stream is a discharge. 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 4,697 violations and discharges in our area, many of them multiple-day violations (see violations list).
STENCH/EMISSION ALERTS - details/photos CAFO application, timeline documentation from neighbors
VIOLATIONS LIST - CAFO discharges and violations from 2000 to the present, with documentation from federal and state agencies
RESEARCH/STUDIES - national and local research on CAFO risks to water, air, public health; ECCSCM hand-out with recent books/films
RECENT NEWS - 2015: (For previous years, see News Archives with details and photos 2000-2015)
Oct 7 - Massive manure applications from Milk Source's CAFOs continue. And today, Milk Source's PR person Bill Harke finally admitted in an online article that they're "working through issues" with the new livestock waste system they'd promised would treat manure so completely you could drink it! No sign of drinking water on Milk Source fields here. Instead, they're hauling and trucking and spraying and spreading - stinking untreated CAFO waste. Yesterday tankers were rolling morning to night.
Oct 1 - "Disgusting" - For miles around, another day of black manure fields, polluted air, polluted water, disgusting CAFO waste applications. See more details and photos of 6 CAFOs spraying, aerosolizing, dumping animal sewage on fields.
Sept 23 - "Unbearable...for several days" - And today, a beautiful first day of fall, CAFOs are fouling the air in at least 5 townships (Adrian, Rollin, Hudson, Dover, Medina). See more photos and details of CAFO waste being sprayed, spread, hauled, and draglined around us today.
Sept 14 - More toxins lead to more toxic chemicals in Monroe Co, MI drinking water - Through most of the summer we've heard news reports of the toxin microcystin in Toledo's water intake in Lake Erie – but not in the drinking water. Now a Toledo Blade article notes that the “heavy reliance on chlorine” in water treatment may be causing health threats: "Customers of the South County Water System, which distributes Toledo tap water to 30,000 Monroe County [MI] residents, were notified by that utility earlier this month that their water earlier this year had an elevated level of cancer-causing trihalomethanes," which is a symptom of heavy reliance on chlorine. In July, the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune reported that "Just over $5 million has been spent within the past year at Toledo’s drinking water plant that will allow it to quadruple the amount of chemicals needed to get rid of the toxins in the water as it is pumped from the lake."
Millions dying around the world due to air pollution - CBS News - "Agriculture is the next biggest contributor to premature deaths from air pollution. Ammonia from livestock and fertilizer cause the formation of ammonium nitrate and sulfate particles, which contribute to air pollution. Agriculture is the leading source of premature deaths from air pollution in the eastern United States, Russia, Turkey, Korea and Japan and Europe, according to the study."
Aug 12 – Foul, intolerable day all around – (see more details and more photos)
NOAA's Harmful Algae Bloom Bulletin for Aug 10 describes a cyanobacteria bloom across a large part of Lake Erie's western basin. A Recreational Public Health Advisory has been posted for Maumee Bay State Park by Ohio EPA, due to high levels of algal toxin detected at the beach. Swimming and wading are not recommended for the very old, the very young or those in ill health. A Contamination Advisory for E. coli continues at Maumee Bay State Park. Children, the elderly and those in ill health or weakened immune systems are advised not to swim.
Quite a weekend - Aug 7-9 - "Celebrate Hudson" Festival, with US-127 Yard Sales and Neighborhood Garage Sales everywhere. Also, just down the road on M-34, Clayton Summerfest, on Saturday Aug 8 with Hartland Farms listed as "Proud Sponsor" (see Hartland Farms "Dairy-air" contribution below).
Aug 6 - Lake Erie Harmful Algae Bloom Bulletin for Aug 6 - The microcystis cyanobacteria bloom has intensified along Michigan's shoreline and the western basin, where "extensive severe scum was present." In the satellite image from Aug 5, all areas in dark red have scum. "Microcystin is present in this bloom, with toxin levels especially high in scums."
Aug 5 - Foul far and wide - "extreme stench" reported from liquid manure applications in multiple locations, a nightmare this beautiful summer evening. Emissions are carrying for miles in light and variable winds. See details on Hartland Farms CAFO, New Flevo Dairy CAFO, Hoffland Farms CAFO, and Medina Dairy CAFO.
July 29 - Still hot, in the 90s, & humid, bad air at manure applications: Medina Dairy still draglining along Ridgeville Rd; and Milk Source's Hudson Dairy spreading solids in Ransom Twp, Hillsdale Co, with dust and particulates rising, drifting in the heat. See details.
July 28 - Industrial-strength manure dumping - with fields drying and wheat cut, CAFOs are draglining, spreading and spraying manure. Bad days for neighbors. For more details and photos, see Stench Alerts.
July 27 - Microcystin detected in Toledo water intake crib - The City of Toledo announces: "We’ve changed our water quality dashboard to reflect the current status of Toledo’s water, which is now 'Watch.' Our new water protocols are working as we intended to provide the public with information about the changes in quality of water as well as early warning of harmful algal blooms. Microcystin has been detected in the intake crib 3 miles out in Lake Erie, but not in drinking water." For current data from the crib intake, see Great Lakes Buoys - Toledo crib intake sonde data. (To see data for the week, click on the graph icon to the left of blue-green algae data.)
"Large pastoral farms" instead of CAFOs - YES! - Project Animal Farm author Sonia Faruqi in an interview describes large pastoral farms as "the solution to most of the humane and sustainability problems we are seeing" in industrial farms. She says that systemic reform in animal agriculture is essential, to end the "horrific abuses" of industrial-size operations. She describes how large pastoral farms can thrive with "economies of scale and the low costs that producers and consumers want."
South Medina Drain looks terrible today, July 22 - This stream, listed as "impaired," originates on Milk Source's Medina Dairy CAFO property and drains only Medina Dairy production area and fields. Water monitoring Hach test strip results today showed extremely high Nitrate (10mg/L); Phosphate (30mg/L); and Ammonia (0.25mg/L - of concern, above 0.10mg/L).
"It’s the manure, stupid" - article in today' s Toledo Blade (July 17) on the major problem in Lake Erie's current degradation. "The biggest, and most immediate, thing we can do to save the lake is reduce the manure runoff into it," says Sandy Bihn, head of Lake Erie Waterkeeper. "That will ultimately mean more expensive beef and pork, or eating less of each. But both outcomes seem a small price for saving a great lake." The article notes that Gov John Kasich of Ohio (like Gov Rick Snyder of MI?) is a genuine champion of Lake Erie, but he "may have to face down the meat industry, which, it has been said, is as powerful as the cigarette industry in America. Eventually, the farm animal waste will have to be treated, just as human waste is."
Bulletin: Latest (July 9) Harmful Algae Bloom risk for western Lake Erie - "among the most severe in recent years." After heavy rains in June, and phosphorus surging off fields, NOAA and its research partners expect a severity index as high as 9.5 (out of 10, "which corresponds to the 2011 bloom, the worst ever observed"). See also Toledo Blade article today.
Court upholds EPA Chesapeake Bay clean-up plan - Victory for clean water! - In response to a suit filed by Farm Bureau and other ag interests, an Appeals Court ruled July 6 that "EPA’s regulation of nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay under the Clean Water Act was valid, and that the Farm Bureau’s arguments against the plan were 'unpersuasive'." Because of serious nutrient pollution, as in Lake Erie, the 6 Chesapeake Bay states established a Clean Water Blueprint, with Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for how much nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment can enter the bay each year.
"One more capitulation to the powerful agricultural lobby" - Read Gary Wilson's report on the recent "Leadership Summit" in Quebec on protecting Lake Erie (or listen to interview on WKAR). "For all the talk about valuing the Great Lakes and blue economies, this was a shabby performance in Quebec by an absent and disinterested group of governors. The status quo which hasn’t worked trumped bold action to improve drinking water quality."
report on "America's Industrial Dairy Wasteland" - could be a Michigan CAFO report, but no, this report, from Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP), focuses on Wisconsin's CAFO pollution and the public health crisis in CAFO communities and watersheds. (See Full report, 140 p., 41MB) The report,"The Rap Sheets: Industrial Dairies of Kewaunee County, Wisconsin," documents years of pollution, complaints and agency response to 16 dairy CAFOs . “We should not mince words about this...What we’re talking about are Third World conditions in America’s heartland,” SRAP’s Scott Dye said. Drawing on agency documents, the report indicts Wisconsin's DNR (like our DEQ, charged with overseeing CAFOs) for regulatory failure, concluding its "hand-off approach...has proven to be an abject failure. The agency’s 'all carrots, and no stick' oversight has left county residents with contaminated groundwater, a polluted countryside and a public health emergency."
Pope Francis in "On Care for Our Common Home," speaks forcefully on the enviroment, on climate change, on pollution including "agrotoxins," and on the moral imperative of protecting nature –"our common home." "Everything is connected," he writes. Our world is both enviromental and social, an "integral ecology." Read the full Encyclical Letter. Excerpts below are pertinent to sustainablility, agriculture, and the economic and political actions of authorities, agencies:
Lake Erie microcystis reported – too soon. The Toledo Blade reports that the early arrival of algae puts scientists on alert, following the first report of microcystis this week in Lake Erie. Blooms usually don't appear until August. The most recent (June 15) Harmful Algal Bloom Projection, from Heidelberg Univ and NOAA, notes that, "Earlier this spring had been relatively dry, resulting in less discharge and lower phosphorus loads into the western basin. Recent thunderstorms increased the loads, therefore increasing the potential bloom severity."
What causes Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Lake Erie? See brief but detailed account by scientists with USDA Agricultural Research Service on the role of "larger farms," "manure," "tile drainage," as well as climate change, commodity prices, ethanol production, etc. in Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (April 2015).
Voices throughout the region unite on changes in agricultural practices to protect Lake Erie: The just-released Interim Joint Action Plan for Lake Erie lists a ban on manure and fertilizer on snow-covered and frozen ground as crucial. A June 5 Toledo Blade editorial on the new federal water rule supporting the Clean Water Act details the importance of protecting small tributaries and wetlands that feed drinking water sources (like Lake Erie). As Todd Ambs, the director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, told the Blade, “It’s not called the Partially Clean Water Act.”
June 7 - Dead cow at Bakerlads CAFO "Center for Excellence," lying at
the northeast corner of the facility east of Morey Hwy (M 156), within 100 feet of the South Branch of the River Raisin.
June 3 - NEW! Updated information on Western Lake Erie Watershed CAFO manure inputs and nutrient inputs for 2015 (from CAFO annual reports in Michigan and Ohio Livestock Permitting database). Manure production in the Western Lake Erie Watershed has increased since last year by more by than 171,000,000 lbs. to a new CAFO waste total of more than 5 billion pounds. In our Michigan watershed alone, CAFOs have added 3,667 animals, with an increase of more than 13,600,000 gal of liquid CAFO waste. Current totals here, from 15 CAFOs: 45,700 animals, 187,943,633 gals. of liquid waste.
. . . (earlier Jan-May 2015 entries on News archive page)
FIND THE CAFOS IN YOUR AREA - New Food & Water Watch map of CAFOs, updated to 2012 (with expansions around here continuing through 2015, not included)