Protecting quality of water and quality of life in Coastal North Carolina
💧Pure Farms, Pure Water Program Update💧
Pure Farms, Pure Waters Pure Farms, Pure Waters is a Waterkeeper Alliance campaign addressing pollution impacts from industrialized meat production. The campaign calls attention to the destructive pollution practices of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. The Pure Farms, Pure Waters campaign addresses the failure to regulate pollution from industrialized swine, poultry, and dairy facilities that is devastating rivers, lakes, and estuaries and lowering the quality of life in our communities. Coastal Carolina Riverwatch (CCRW) works on this program locally in the New River watershed. We work to monitor these facilities and educate our community about impacts to quality of water and quality of life. We support local farmers and sustainable food systems, and work with statewide partners to advocate for reform of industrialized meat production.
Monitoring CAFOs contain unmanageable amounts of animal waste. Hog facilities store waste in large open air pits, known as “lagoons”. This waste is disposed of by spraying onto adjacent fields. This spraying can cause contaminated runoff, and extreme weather events can cause lagoons to fail. Poultry waste is stored in large litter piles, easily carried away by wind or rain. Due to transparency issues within the industry, little is known about where and how poultry waste is disposed of. Coastal Carolina Riverwatch conducts regular monitoring of CAFO facilities in the New River watershed. We do this through ground and aerial surveys, as well as water quality sampling.
Twice a month White Oak Waterkeeper, Rebecca Drohan, collects water samples from targeted sites on the New River. CCRW selects sample sites surrounding CAFOs, both upstream and downstream to reflect pollution impacts.
We test for E. coli, a fecal bacteria present in warm-blooded animal manure. E. coli is commonly present in our environment, however elevated levels can indicate contaminated runoff or waste management issues from nearby CAFOs. E. coli can impact public health, causing infection, gastrointestinal effects, and fever.
We run E. coli analysis at our in-house lab using an IDEXX system. This is EPA approved equipment to quantify E. coli.
We also submit water samples to State certified laboratories to identify nutrient contamination. Nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, are also present in animal waste. Excessive nutrients in waterways can lead to Harmful Algae Blooms, resulting in fish kills and dangerous pathogens.
We use YSI equipment to monitor other parameters such as pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and turbidity that can be indicative of water quality issues. In photo above: White Oak Waterkeeper, Rebecca Drohan.