As a small-business owner who is very reliant on clean water in Spring Green, I am concerned and disappointed with a recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency not to propose new regulations to protect our waterways from industrial animal farm runoff. Industrial animal farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs, raise large volumes of cows, chickens and/or pigs on a relatively small amount of land. Unfortunately, they are notorious for over concentrating animal manure in liquid "lagoons" that seep into our groundwater, lakes and rivers.
In a court-approved settlement in 2010, the EPA was required to broaden the definition of a CAFO and to ensure more stringent permitting. By the EPA’s own estimates, 43 percent of Americans have drinking water contaminated by pathogens such as E. coli or salmonella from CAFOs. This is in part because fewer than 60 percent of industrial farms are even required to operate under EPA permits, allowing these industrial farms to over-concentrate their manure lagoons without regard to nearby waterways.