Thursday 20 September 2018

Join your Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, along with neighbors and the brave defenders of the Potomac watershed on November 5th in Chevy Chase, Maryland from 7-10pm at the Meadowbrook Park Activity Building. We will celebrate and learn about our unique watershed and a small community's fight against a large hog Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Fulton County, PA. 

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This factory-like facility would be the largest in the county and would house close to 9,000 hogs, while confining sows to production of 9,600 piglets each month – or 115,200 piglets annually. With this many pigs comes even more manure. The CAFO would apply over 11.4 million gallons of manure to land in our watershed and use an estimated 14 million gallons of water each year.

Our upstream neighbors and community members, led by homeowner Marjorie Hudson (pictured below) - who lives across from the proposed hog CAFO - have opposed the project since it was proposed in 2014. Thanks to their efforts, they have been able to stop the CAFO from polluting nearby air, land and waterways.

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The location of the proposed CAFO is on a hill that drains into tributaries of Big Cove Creek, a popular fishing location. The waters of Big Cove Creek flow into Licking Bend Creek, which is a tributary of the Potomac River. The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay and provides drinking water for approximately 4.5 million people. 

Marjorie and her neighbors can't go it alone - they need our support! Please join us in support of Marjorie’s life-sustaining work because we all live downstream.

RSVP & DONATE on EventBrite or Facebook

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Want to know more? 

The proposed hog CAFO in Fulton County would:

  • Apply over 11.4 million gallons of waste to land in our watershed
  • Pollute groundwater and drinking water aquifers, as manure will be spread in a Karst area. Some Karst features are springs, sinkholes, and underground streams.  
  • Threaten private drinking wells
  • Jeopardize aquatic habitat and trout fishing in Big Cove Creek
  • Harm local air quality
    • Not only do hog CAFOs create harsh odors for neighboring communities, but they also emit toxic pollutants, like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, that can cause serious health problems for residents.
    • Children and other vulnerable populations are more likely to experience asthmatic symptoms near hog CAFOs.
    • Unlike other industries, hog CAFOs are not regulated by the Clean Air Act.
  • Decrease overall water quality in the watershed
    • Runoff from hog CAFOs contains microbes, hormones, pesticides and other harmful chemicals that degrade water quality, kill fish, cause algal blooms, and impairs drinking water sources.
  • Use an estimated 14 million gallons of water each year
    • CAFOs and other agricultural operations are responsible for 80-90% of all water consumption, using 34-76 trillion gallons of water every year. 

Just one CAFO with 800,000 pigs generates 1.6 million tons of animal waste every year. This is as much waste is 1.5 times the amount of waste produced by the city of Philadelphia! Unlike human waste, animal waste from hog farms is often left untreated in open lagoons.  This waste also contains harmful microbes and hormones, that make their way into local waterways.

‘We Are All Downstream’ is dedicated to the memory of the late Kathy Ozer who for 24 years tirelessly advocated for small family farms as Executive Director of the National Family Farm Coalition.

 On this 45th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, we reflect on how our local Waterkeeper programs are needed more than ever to safeguard our clean water resources.

Over the past few years, Waterkeepers Chesapeake has successfully brought together 19 local Waterkeepers programs to collaboratively advocate for and bring legal action to protect communities and waterways throughout the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Bay regions.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake has focused on unifying Waterkeeper efforts behind important clean water priorities, like the passage of the fracking ban in Maryland and the passage of protective coal ash laws in Virginia. Waterkeepers Chesapeake also works on issues at the federal level - coordinating efforts against EPA's rollback of clean water protections, the slashing of EPA funding, and Scott Pruitt's appointment.

Through the Fair Farms campaign, Waterkeepers Chesapeake is addressing agricultural pollution while supporting sustainable farming efforts. This year, we worked to pass a second-in-the-country law to restrict the routine use of human antibiotics in livestock.

At the core of our work we empower people to stop pollution and encourage better local water quality through tools and legal rights under the Clean Water Act. Waterkeeper programs were founded to engage and organize citizens to protect their right to clean water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations to protect human health and the environment. Sadly, under this administration, the EPA has been fully captured by the fossil fuels industry and industrial polluters. To date, the EPA has rolled back or repealed the Clean Water Rule, the Clean Power Plan, and effluent limits on the discharge of toxic coal wastewater.

Now, our Waterkeepers are the last line of defense for citizens to protect their clean water. Some examples of how our Waterkeepers are encouraging public participation in protecting our waters include:

  • For the past several years, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) has conducted compliance sweeps of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued under the Clean Water Act to assess violations before a major incident occurs. In a recent sweep, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper found that 38 out of 291 facilities had severe violations. PRKN’s first step is to communicate pollution concerns with the facility, and to offer assistance in mitigating the problem. If there is no cooperation or development of a remedy, then they notify the State. If the State does nothing to remedy the problem, then they escalate to legal action on behalf of the impacted citizens.
  • Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) and Chesapeake Legal Alliance (CLA), produced the Citizen Guide – Public Participation in Maryland’s NPDES Permitting Program. The Guide was produced for the purpose of improving the vital component of citizen involvement in environmental decision-making in Maryland. The Guide is used as an outreach tool to engage organizations and citizens to get involved with the many key avenues for public participation in protecting our waters. It is critical that those impacted by permit violations be engaged in the early stages.
  • The Lower James and Upper James Riverkeepers have created an advocacy tool called Our River at Risk to educate and rally citizens around toxic pollution threats like coal ash. They use maps, online petitions and email updates to elevate the public’s voice and participation in regulatory and permitting processes.
  • The South Riverkeeper published a report on a county’s enforcement of its environmental code to show the county that it needs to step up resources for clean water enforcement. The report clearly showed that current penalties are not effective deterrents for environmental carelessness.

These are just a few examples of how our Waterkeepers bring the Clean Water Act to life on the local level and empower citizens to participate in the protection of their right to clean water. In an era when the EPA administrator only meets with corporate polluters and ignores the public, an engaged and active citizenry on the local level is more important than ever.

What You Can Do

  • Visit our website to get involved and support your local Waterkeeper program
  • Support Waterkeepers Chesapeake
  • Use our Water Reporter app to report pollution to your local Waterkeeper
  • Take Action! Tell your federal representatives to resist any rollbacks or repeals of clean water protections, to stop any reductions in funding of the EPA, and to protect citizens’ right to sue when government fails to enforce the law.

 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Rubberstamps Pipelines, Ignoring Strong Evidence of Significant Harm & Lack of Need

Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a coalition of nineteen independent Waterkeeper and Riverkeeper programs, condemns the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to approve the Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipelines (MVP), despite strong evidence of significant harm. The potential water quality impacts from these natural gas pipelines in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is alarming, specifically for the headwaters of the Shenandoah and James rivers. Waterkeepers Chesapeake applauds Commissioner LaFleur dissenting view that questions the need for the ACP and MVP, and recognizes the dire environmental, ecological, and public health impacts that will result from these needless projects.

The Commission’s approval seriously undermines FERC’s credibility as a supposedly objective permitting agency, given the fact that its decision was made in advance of necessary and required decisions by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the state environmental authorities in the affected states of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina on critical environmental issues. 

Over the coming weeks and months, Waterkeepers Chesapeake will join the Shenandoah Riverkeeper, Upper James Riverkeeper, hundreds of landowners, scientists, faith leaders, businesses, public health organizations, non-profits, and other community organizations and thousands of Virginians to stop these pipelines at the federal, state, and local levels.

[The Virginia State Water Control Board will hold town meetings in December to consider the application for water quality certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The consideration is part of the process required under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. The meetings are scheduled for: 9:30 a.m., Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, and Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Location: Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA. More info here.]