Big dairies, big problems: Reporter Charles Duhigg of the New York Times has been on the rampage these past few weeks with a series of great articles highlighting the need for better government regulation, oversight and enforcement of clean water laws. The latest installment covers the dairy industry in Wisconsin and elsewhere, where mega-feedlots concentrate millions of gallons of untreated waste that can leach into groundwater. Nearby residents worry about E. coli, coliform bacteria, artificial hormones like rBGH, and other contaminants flowing out of their taps–and testing (and the residents’ health problems) shows that they have the right to be worried.
But while agricultural runoff is the largest single-source contributor to water contamination, groundwater quality goes virtually unregulated by the federal government and many states. [This is a particularly big issue in places like California's Central Valley, home to most of the state's industrial dairies, where 90% of residents get their drinking water from groundwater sources.]
We were particularly impressed by the video that accompanies this article, available about halfway down the page on the left. It contains some incredible aerial and drive-by shots of dairy feedlots and arresting testimony by nearby residents. (New York Times)