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 America

Statement: EPA seeks to legalize pollution via groundwater

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new interpretation of the Clean Water Act on Monday that fails to protect against pollution that passes through groundwater before reaching our waterways. The EPA is grossly misinterpreting the Clean Water Act and putting our waters at risk by opening loopholes for pollution. This change would leave the public vulnerable to toxic pollution, as our current lawsuit in Massachusetts demonstrates.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

At EPA hearing, Andrea McGimsey stands up for crucial mercury protections

The Trump administration is moving to weaken a rule that protects Americans from mercury, arsenic and other toxic emissions. Our staff are having none of it.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

The grades are in: Report finds states are failing to ensure safe drinking water for our children

Headline: The grades are in: Report finds states are failing to ensure safe drinking water for our children

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment America

Statement: Senators push agencies to act on toxic chemicals known as PFAS

Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a source of widespread drinking water contamination. While our federal agencies are standing by, Congress is taking a real bipartisan interest in tackling PFAS contamination in our drinking water. In states as far-flung as Colorado, Michigan, and North Carolina, this urgent public health problem calls for urgent action.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Illinois Research and Policy Center

Get the Lead Out

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.  As our report shows, states are failing to make the grade when it comes to keeping lead out of drinking water at school.  Instead of waiting for more testing, we need to proactively remove the lead pipes and plumbing at the root of this toxic hazard for our children.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed