Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Farmer John, you dirty boy

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 12:45 PM

It makes little sense to me why people and industries who depend on the earth to make their living don't, in turn, take care of her.

Even if they're not interested in protecting our lakes and streams, the rest of us can do something about it. Tonight, the Catawba River Keeper is beginning a course called "Cove Watcher Training." The eight classes -- which are FREE -- will be held at the Mooresville Public Library. Orientation begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. Find out more information here.

The number one cause of pollution in the nation's lakes, streams and rivers is not big factories or power plants. It is agriculture runoff.

The federal government does little to stop it, but does have rules for larger farms. Many of these farms, however, never file paperwork and can "self certify" that they won't cause pollution, thereby freeing themselves from federal regulation.

The New York Times reported on all of this and more in a series of stories about water pollution reports. The problem, one of the stories in the series pointed out, is especially prevalent in states such as Wisconsin, where big dairy farms use and emit lots of water:

"Agricultural runoff is the single largest source of water pollution in the nation's rivers and streams, according to the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. An estimated 19.5 million Americans fall ill each year from waterborne parasites, viruses or bacteria, including those stemming from human and animal waste, according to a study published last year in the scientific journal Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

Read the rest of this "Al's Morning Meeting" post at Poynter Online.

The New York Times has a couple of interesting interactive tools you might enjoy poking around on.

Clean Water Act Violations. On the third tab you'll see that North Carolina isn't afraid to punish violators — they're just afraid to get tough with them. The average fine is only $1,387.

Find polluters near you. Use this tool to look up polluters by zip code. One thing that I found interesting, or disturbing -- depending on how you look at it, is that many of the companies that are listed as having zero compliance issues either haven't been inspected in a long time or it's unknown when they were last inspected.

Ducks Unlimited's take on the Clean Water Act:

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