Tom Quail, the MCTU Conservation Chair, sent out a message last week and we think it’s worth passing along because it is so timely and so close to home.
The MDNRE is taking your public comments until February 16 on CAFO discharge permits. Your messages will help safeguard coldwater fisheries from large-scale animal waste producing operations.
Additionally, our chapter has been following this issue closely and put together info on why CAFOs are so important here in West Michigan.
Here’s Tom’s email …
“Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are large scale industrial feeding operations that house large numbers of animals in confined enclosures. These facilities create significant quantities of waste material that are usually land applied. In recent years, Michigan TU has become increasingly concerned about the damage that can occur as a result of the misapplication of manure within watersheds supporting coldwater fisheries. This concern became tragically evident in late July, 2006 when a large amount of fecal material contaminated Tyler Creek near Freeport, Michigan (just south of Grand Rapids), resulting in a total loss of the fish population along 4 miles of one of the finest trout streams in southern Michigan. Since then, other spills of agricultural wastes have occurred in streams throughout Michigan, including two spills that occurred within the past several months along the Black River in Sanilac County and along a tributary of the River Raisin in southern Michigan, both resulting in large fish kills.
“Since the Tyler Creek fish kill, Michigan TU has been actively engaged in CAFO related issues (to learn more about our work regarding CAFOs CLICK HERE). For the past year, we have participated in Stakeholders Meetings put on by the MDEQ/MDNRE to help draft the new General Discharge Permit for CAFOs. This effort has produced many positive results, but there is still more that can be done to protect surface and ground water. The draft permit was recently issued for public comment (CLICK HERE to see a copy of the permit) and Michigan TU has drafted a response letter with an extensive list of comments. (To review the full letter CLICK HERE.) We have also developed a summary list of our major points of concern to help our members better understand Michigan TU’s position (CLICK HERE to review this list).
“We encourage our members to submit public comments to the MDNRE by Tuesday, February 16th. We encourage you to review the list of items when drafting your comments or you may simply respond by stating that you are a Michigan TU member and you would like the Department to carefully consider the comments presented by Michigan TU. Comments should be submitted to Mr. Mike Bitondo, Permits Section, Water Bureau, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, P.O. Box 30273, Lansing, Michigan 48909, telephone: 517-335-3303, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.”