(State wide) – A report released last week to mark the 50th anniversary of the Pure Water Act said most of the state’s pollution in rivers and streams comes from large hog farms. The law, enacted in 1972, promised clean water by 1983, which in most cases was not implemented.
“There are more than 24,000 miles of rivers and streams in the state that are damaged by pollution in such a way that at least some of the time makes them unsuitable for recreation swimming in water or other forms of communication.” Said Eric Schaefer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project and co-author of the report.
Listen: Eric Schaefer talks about the Clean Water Act and Indiana
In terms of mileage, Indiana is number one in terms of river and stream pollution, the report said. However, Schaefer said the state is doing some things to help.
“You have been identified as unsuitable for swimming many miles because the state of Indiana does more to assess its water condition than many other states,” he said. “The state is doing one thing, which I think is really good, they are starting to increase the number of suggestions they have made to let people know if the water in their area is not really safe for swimming.”
But, where the state is failing in terms of pollution, much of it is due to the flow of water from large hog farms, Schaefer said.
He said pigs emit ten times more waste than humans, and with some farms with a population of 20,000 pigs it is much more fertilizer, and far more than farms can use for fertilizer.
“All the excess fertilizer that cannot be taken by the crop eventually makes its way into the water. This is why you see algae flowers. That is why the water becomes unsafe for swimming. ”
Schaefer said 20,000 hogs is the equivalent of a city with a population of 200,000, without a sewerage system, and most have no place to store manure.
“It can be kind of gross,” he said, even when explaining the situation in scientific terms.
Schaefer says he doesn’t want to blame farmers who are trying to do things right. However, the Clean Water Act requires that large farms be allowed to limit the amount of waste they can produce.
“That part of the Clean Water Act didn’t work really well.”
He said the solution lies in enforcing the laws in the book and updating the old ones.
The report, “The Clean Water Act at 50”, can be viewed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jwfznocoT-YslTKgi_I7LXdJbGOEvRcO/view
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