Pure Farms, Pure Waters


Waterkeeper Alliance, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, and North Sound Baykeeper are working with Western Environmental Law Center and other partners to address pollution from the dairy industry in Washington State.  The lack of regulation of CAFOs by federal and state agencies has led to a public health crisis in the state.  CAFOs throughout the state of Washington are contaminating surface water, groundwater and drinking water resources of the state with nitrates, phosphorus, bacteria, and pharmaceuticals.  CAFOs generate so much manure that it must be stored in large storage lagoons or piled on the ground.  This vast amount of waste is not sent to any kind of wastewater treatment plant, like with human waste, but is dumped into unlined lagoons and placed in huge quantities onto the ground.  As a result of advocacy and precedent setting litigation by partners, the Washington State Department of Ecology is proposing a draft Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (“CAFO”) permit under the Clean Water Act.  The permit proposes substantial revisions to Washington State’s historic regulatory approach, in large part, to more stringently regulate dairy CAFOs and address the documented groundwater pollution problems.  As support for the new requirements and mandatory permitting, the WA DOE stated that “[s]cience and current practice documentation point to a discharge to ground from lagoons, which requires a permit.”   We are working to defend stringent permit conditions and mandatory permitting for all discharging CAFOs.