Saturday, August 6, 2016

Taking the measure of a WI 26,000-hog CAFO manure output

People living within smelling distance of Lake Superior's gorgeous, wildlife-rich Chequamegon Bay - - "this exceptional area of northern Wisconsin" - - raves the state tourism department where an industrial-scale hog farmer wants fatten 26,000 of his animals every six months for his Iowa-based business took to wearing pig masks last week to let Wisconsin's corporate-obeisant  environmental 'regulators' know that the hog-feeding operation is not welcome there.

The protesters' argument had underscored dramatically just days earlier when torrential rains flooded the area: you didn't have to be a rocket scientist or an agricultural specialist to grasp that putting 26,000 individual hog-size manure machines in a water-rich environment that close to Lake Superior was a proposal of towering stupidity.

Or simply imagine the area's Kakagon River, part of a wild-rice producing region only recently saved from destruction by miles and miles of open-pit iron mining, only to be overwhelmed like other streams and drinking water supplies by torrents of manure-laden, storm-driven hog manure. 

Now I'm sure someone had written it before - - possibly about the persistent residential well contamination from industrial-scale dairy cattle to which the state just last week just gave yet another politically-inspired and industry-friendly shoulder shrug - - but I had wondered:

Just how much manure is that hog-feeding operation - - bigger than anything similar regionally - - projected annually to excrete?

9,000,000 gallons.

I found the answer in a story about how the Iowa-based hog farm operator intends to dispose of the manure from his operation which does not drip and drain away from the site, or gets flushed into the watershed by Mother Nature in an era of harsher rains predicted in a warming climate.

Ironically, and/or pathetically, and/or depressingly, the story with the manure calculation was all about the hog operator having claimed he had some agreements from nearby farmers to accept his manure for crop fertilization who said they had made no such manure-spreading commitments.

So while I was contemplating that manure spreading debate, and in light of all the b.s. spread by the Walker administration as it rigged and weakened rule-making which was supposed to control in the public interest manure dispersal from the state's mega-feedlots, I wondered:

How big is 9,000,000 gallons of manure?

I can visualize a gallon or water or milk or lemonade - - and those comparisons don't carry the question's toxicity implications and disgust factor- - but 9,000,000 of anything is hard to wrap your head around.

But you work with what you can find, and the good folks at the US Geological Survey offered these descriptions of a million gallons of water, so just multiply by nine, add in your basic CAFO-generated stench, known contamination, potential for sickness and documented economic damage done to neighboring properties…decide whether you think it's the right way to hold on to a good chunk of Wisconsin's north woods pure water, clean air and pristine environment:
If you were a swimming-pool builder and a customer asked you to build a pool that would hold a million-gallons, then they had better have a big yard! You would need to build a pool about 267 feet long (almost as long as a football field), 50 feet wide, and 10 feet deep….1 million gallons would form a cube that is 51.1 feet on each side.


Anonymous said...

I think a better way to visualize 9 million gallons of manure/feces/urine would be to imagine all of our State Capital, every floor and each nook-and-cranny absolutely filled with manure to the ceiling.

OH WAIT! We already have that with republican control of all branches of Government by koch-owned republicans!

Anonymous said...

9 million gallons is nothing. Some of the larger dairies can store 30 to 50 million gallons.

James Rowen said...

Which is why the state's retreat per Waller on manure control is a bad idea

Anonymous said...

Don't think of it as a retreat. Think of it as doing nothing because if you do 2 of the 10 things (as an example) that you need to do to prevent manure getting in wells, you haven't prevented some manure from getting in wells have you? And any manure in a well will make you sick or kill you.