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

News Release | Environment Maryland

Obama administration issues rule to help protect Chesapeake Bay

Baltimore, MD – Fifty-nine percent of Maryland’s streams, including those feeding the Chesapeake Bay, will regain federal protections under a final rule signed today by top Obama administration officials. The Clean Water Rule restores Clean Water Act safeguards to streams and wetlands that have been vulnerable to development and pollution for nearly ten years.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

You can’t make good beer with bad water | Russell Bassett

Americans care about clean water for a whole host of reasons – fishing and swimming, protecting wildlife, and safe drinking water. But as I was reminded last week by Jenn Vervier at New Belgium Brewing, clean water is also vital for excellent beer.  Understanding that great beer takes great water, many of America’s breweries have come out in support of the proposed clean water rule. Noticeably absent from the list of the rule’s supporters, however, is America’s biggest brewery: Anheuser-Busch. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Maryland

Maryland's Summer Fun Index

Every summer, Marylanders flock to our waterways to seek relief from the summer heat, and enjoy our favorite aquatic activities. Whether we rent boats on the Pocomoke River, go swimming in Assateague, or go tubing near Gunpowder Falls, enjoying our rivers and streams is a big part of summer fun in Maryland. Environment Maryland created the Summer Fun Index to show just how important our waterways are to our most relaxing season! 

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Maryland

Summer Fun Index

Every summer, Marylanders flock to our waterways to seek relief from the summer heat, and enjoy our favorite aquatic activities. Whether we rent boats on the Pocomoke River, go swimming in Assateague, or go tubing near Gunpowder Falls, enjoying our rivers and streams is a big part of summer fun in Maryland. Environment Maryland created the Summer Fun Index to show just how important our waterways are to our most relaxing season! 

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center

Wasting Our Waterways

Industrial facilities continue to dump millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s rivers, streams, lakes and ocean waters each year – threatening both the environment and human health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), toxic discharges from industrial facilities are responsible for polluting more than 17,000 miles of rivers and about 210,000 acres of lakes, ponds and estuaries nationwide.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed