Today's biggest threat to our water

When most people think of water pollution, they picture BP’s drilling rig gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, or old discharge pipes spewing chemicals or sewage into our rivers and streams. Research shows, however, that today one of the biggest threats to our water is how big corporations are running — and ruining — many of America’s farms. 

Factory farms crowd too many animals into one place with no place to put all their waste. Other corporate agribusinesses are spreading too much fertilizer and too many chemicals onto the land. And they’re taking too little care to keep all of this manure and other pollution out of our water.

The consequences include an enormous bloom of toxic algae in Lake Erie that contaminated the drinking water for 500,000 people in Toledo; 100,000 miles of American rivers and streams that are now too polluted for swimming, drinking, and/or other uses; and huge biological “dead zones” from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico in which no life can survive.

That's why we’re working to reveal America’s next top polluter: Because once people know the truth, they will demand change.

How heavy is the toll that corporate agribusiness imposes on our water?

  • Each year, factory farms produce millions of tons of manure  more than the sewage produced by the entire U.S. population. 
  • According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agriculture is "one of the largest sources of pollution" for more than 100,000 miles of rivers and streams in the United States, along with 2,500 square miles of lakes and 2,900 square miles of estuaries. 
  • These waters are so polluted that they are unsafe for fishing, swimming, and/or wildlife. 

This agribusiness pollution is a leading cause of the dead zones that plague waters from the Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.

Agribusiness pollution is so severe that it is beginning to threaten our drinking water as well:

  • In Ohio, runoff from agribusiness operations contributed to a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie which contaminated the drinking water for 500,000 people around Toledo with cyanotoxins in 2014. 
  • In Iowa, nitrate pollution from agribusiness operations have so badly polluted the Raccoon River that Des Moines is now suing three counties for failing to stop contamination of its main drinking water source.

From manure runoff to direct dumping

Agribusiness pollution runs throughout the industry’s operations  from factory farm manure to fertilizer and pesticide runoff from fields to direct dumping from processing plants.

Factory farms concentrate so many animals in one location that the volume of manure is virtually impossible to keep out of the water.

By and large, the practices needed to curb this pollution are well known  including buffer zones, cover crops, reduced fertilizer use, and holding factory farms accountable for every pound of poop they generate. But these big companies won’t stop polluting unless the public demands it.

It's time to reveal the truth

Unfortunately, few people really know about how corporate agribusiness is polluting our waterways.

Before we can press corporate agribusinesses to change or our elected officials to force them to change, we need to educate the public — to get people to make the connection between megafarms and water pollution in the same way they do with big oil or big chemical companies or big pipelines or big sewage plants.

That’s why we need you help to reveal America’s next top polluter. 

 

Clean Water Updates

Report | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

Rough Waters Ahead Factsheet

Millions of Americans live in the Puget Sound watershed, and millions more come each year to fish, boat and enjoy its water and wildlife. But intense human activity has polluted the Sound. The Environmental Protection Agency has been vital to protecting Puget Sound, holding polluters accountable and working with state, local and tribal governments to clean up and restore the Sound. That work is in jeopardy because the Trump administration has proposed cutting the EPA’s budget by 31 percent.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

Rough Waters Ahead

Clean water in Puget Sound is critical to the health and welfare of our families, our communities, and wildlife.  A new report documents how proposed federal budget cuts by the Trump Administration would increase pollution in the Puget Sound and undermine the recovery efforts that have done so much to restore this beautiful natural resource.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

Budget Cuts Would Increase Puget Sound Pollution

Proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean water programs would halt progress on curbing the flow of polluted runoff into Puget Sound, according to a new report by Environment Washington Research and Policy Center (Environment Washington RPC). With a deadline for Congress to approve a federal budget fast approaching, Northern Fish Seafood Company President Ross Swanes, Pierce Conservation District Executive Director Ryan Mello, and Washington Environmental Council Puget Sound Program Director Mindy Roberts joined Environment Washington RPC in calling for full funding of EPA to protect Puget Sound and other Washington waterways.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

New “Back to School” Item for Parents: Toolkit to Get the Lead Out of Schools’ Drinking Water

With “back to school” in full swing this week, Environment Washington Research and Policy Center today offered a new toolkit to help parents, teachers, and administrators Get the Lead Out of schools’ drinking water. Citing a lack of accurate information on lead contamination in water and how schools should prevent it, Environment Washington encouraged parents and teachers to put the new toolkit on their “back to school” reading list. 

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Washington Research and Policy Center

'Back to School' Toolkit

Our children need safe drinking water – especially at school where they go to learn and play each day.  Unfortunately, lead is contaminating drinking water at schools and pre-schools across the country.  The problem stems from pipes, plumbing, faucets and fixtures that contain lead.  The common-sense solution is to “get the lead out” of schools’ water delivery systems.  This “Back to School” toolkit is designed to help parents, teachers and school officials get the facts on lead in drinking water and make the case for strong local action to ensure safe drinking water at school.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed