Fund Poultry Waste Transparency in NC Budget
Our communities and environment deserve more protections against waste pollution from the poultry industry. Act now to ask your House Representative to support including the provisions of H 913 in the House version of the state budget. The legislation would require poultry facilities over a certain size to digitally submit the nutrient utilization plans they’re already required to develop to the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ).
The largely unregulated poultry industry in North Carolina is growing. The number of chickens and turkeys increased 17% in just the last 7 years to a total of more than 538 million. The estimated 5 million tons of waste produced annually poses a great threat to our state’s rivers and streams.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Poultry facilities are required to have a waste utilization plan that explains how the poultry litter will be managed. Many times the waste is stored in open-air piles next to streams before being applied to cropland. While there are limits to how long these piles may be exposed to the elements (15 days) and record-keeping requirements for hauling and applying the waste, there is little to no inspection or enforcement of these “requirements.”
Each poultry operation is required to have a nutrient waste utilization plan, but those plans are not checked, certified, or turned into any state or local agencies. Riverkeepers and impacted citizens have no idea if those records exist at all, or much less being followed. No one knows if the cropland where waste is spread can take up all the phosphorus and nitrogen from that waste, or if those pollutants will wash into the nearest body of water the next time it rains. We don’t know where the litter is being spread, or at what rate.
WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM? The runoff from that waste is a threat to public health, with high pH, ammonia, and dangerous levels of bacteria. This makes streams unlivable for macroinvertebrates and aquatic life, and dangerous for kids splashing around in them and may threaten drinking water supplies and other recreational uses of our rivers and lakes due to harmful algal blooms caused by excess nutrient pollution.
Asking for this small amount of non-recurring funds could go a long way in protecting our waterways.