Polluting our water

Raising meat causes dirty water. When it comes to protecting the environment, global warming often takes center stage. However, the water pollution problem hasn’t gone away. State courts are starting to pay attention and require our waterways to be better protected.

Farm animals produces a lot of waste liquid. It is often stored in lagoons which leak and can break open and cause an enormous amount of water pollution.

Factory farms, where most of our meat comes from, pollute the water with abandon, drain precious water resources, house farm animals under very harsh conditions, and threaten the health and quality of life for those who live and work nearby. Factory farms are one of the largest sources of water pollution. This is because we raise so many animals for food. Consider how much waste comes from the 9 billion chickens, 95 million cows and 75 million pigs we raise each year in the United States for meat, dairy and eggs.

Indirectly, factory farms also cause water pollution because of all the feed they consume. 70% of all the crops we grow go to feed farm animals – not people. Raing crops produces water pollution from the soil erosion that it causes, and because of the fertilizers that run off with the soil when the rain comes. Factory farms not only not harm local water resources, but are also a prime driver of off-shore dead zones as all that pollution floats out to sea.

For years state authorities have looked the other way, but no more! Washington state courts have ruled that inadequate state permits violate the Clean Water Act.  Washington is not alone. A Colorado court has ruled that the state violated state and federal laws by failing to protect waterways from the massive water pollution caused by factory farms. This decision follows the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that ruled that the permit for factory farms in Idaho unlawfully let factory farms off the hook by not including pollution monitoring. Oregon now has Factory Farm Moratorium Bill that may soon pass. This legislation would enact a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms in an effort to protect Oregon’s waterways.

We’re glad to see the growing recognition, by both the courts and the environmental organizations that seek justice, that factory farms cause more problems than just global warming. Like so many environmental problems we face, a big part of the solution is a plant-based diet.