LIME SPRINGS, Iowa (AP) — Some northern Iowa residents have banded together to fight what they call pollution of their water and air after several failed attempts to thwart the rise of hog confinements.
The Northeast Iowans for Clean Air and Water has organized an agreement with Howard County residents to form a covenant not allowing manure to be placed on their land, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported. Manure becomes more toxic with a large number of hog confinements.
The covenant is comprised of about 43 families, with 63 separate properties between four townships. The properties together span more than 5,500 acres (2,226 hectares).
Local farmer Russ Stevenson has witnessed many changes in hog farming. He said mainly small farmers were raising pigs 30 years ago. At the time, manure was spread and then mixed with bedding to lower the concentration of toxic chemicals.
Now, Stevenson said, large animal farming operations have taken over and there is more concentrated manure.
Regulations on hog confinements are calculated by a point system designed to regulate separation distances from businesses, residences, churches and schools.
Stevenson raised concerns about concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, injecting manure into the ground by tile lines and sinkholes near his property.
The Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine said swine manure can generate toxic chemicals, including ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and methane. The toxins can delivered to local rivers and streams, affecting drinking water, fish and aquatic organisms.
More than 75 percent of Iowa’s residents rely on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. Groundwater can travel at rapid rates and resurface miles away in a matter of hours, said the Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development Inc.