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 Iowa

Obama administration issues rule to help protect Iowa’s rivers

Des Moines, IA – Sixty-two percent of Iowa’s streams, including those feeding the De Moines, Raccoon and Mississippi Rivers, 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
Report | Environment America Research & Policy Center

Shelter from the Storm

Wetlands are more than just scenic parts of America’s natural landscape. They are also home to wildlife and perform many vital functions that protect the health of our waterways and communities. Of crucial importance for our towns and cities, wetlands also offer flood protection by absorbing large amounts of water that may fall during a storm before releasing it slowly into the environment. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Iowa

Environment Iowa Endorses Bruce Braley for U.S. Senate

Environment Iowa, a statewide environmental organization, announced today the endorsement of Bruce Braley for U.S. Senate.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Iowa

Congress to block protections for 44,432 miles of stream in Iowa

Sixty two percent of streams across the state could remain vulnerable to development and pollution, under a bill expected to win approval today by the U.S. House of Representatives. The waters affected flow into rivers such as the Des Moines River, and help provide drinking water for 667,428 Iowans.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Iowa

Big Creek Lake and other waterways key to summer fun

With 397, 088 fishing licenses, tags, and permits, as well as 223,228 registered boats in Iowa alone, it’s no wonder that Big Creek Lake and Saylorville Lake are popular summer destinations. Nearly 11.5 million people visit state parks with waterways in the summertime, according to Environment Iowa’s new Summer Fun Index. The new fact sheet comes as summer draws to close, and as officials consider a new rule to restore protections for 62% of the state’s rivers and streams.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed