Factory Farms Destroying the Great Lakes

New environmental report finds that factory farm runoff is polluting drinking water for 40 million residents.


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The newest report from water protection organization International Joint Commission (IJC) found that area factory farms are decimating the Great Lakes. The IJC—which monitors waterways along the United States and Canadian border—found that 45 years after signing the The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the two countries have not made adequate progress toward protecting the fresh water contained within the Great Lakes. In fact, the IJC report found that the water quality of Lake Erie is becoming more toxic due to waste pollution from factory farms. “A major source of nutrient inputs to the western Lake Erie basin is concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs),” the report states. “These are livestock confinement facilities that house large quantities of animals, generating significant quantities of animal waste.” The IJC expressed that the Great Lakes—a source of drinking water for 40 million US and Canadian residents—needed stronger protections against waste produced by factory farms. Similarly, an Iowa dairy farm was recently fined $160,000 in civil penalties for violating the Clean Water Act twelve times by allowing waste from 10,000 cows to spill intro two tributaries of the Big Sioux River.