In an earlier posting we discussed possible water quality problems caused by runoff from farms raising cows and from fields where farmers spread large amounts of cow manure as fertilizer. This time we bring news of watershed region in Oklahoma allegedly harmed by runoff from a different kind of farm: Chicken farms.

Excessive amounts of nutrients, primarily from runoff from fields where poultry waste has been used as fertilizer, have caused excessive aquatic vegetation, much of it algae, to become a problem in Lake Tenkiller, said Shanon Phillips, director of the Water Quality Division for the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.

Phillips is the first of a long list of scientists who are expected to testify for the state in Oklahoma’s poultry industry pollution lawsuit.

The state claims that 11 poultry companies are legally responsible for the handling and disposal of poultry waste — also known as litter — that the state says has damaged portions of the Illinois River watershed in Oklahoma. ( source )

Now who would have thought chickens (and their waste) could make such a big mess and cause such a problem? At this point the answer to that question really does not matter. The lawyers, judges, government, and big corporations figuring out what to DO about the situation does matter, though.

How does this article about chicken waste affecting a lake affect drinking water and why did we bother writing about the topic? Simple: More people need to take a closer look at the events and things that could impact their water supply.

If more people took it upon themselves to test their drinking water and make their findings public when problems arose perhaps government officials and big corporations would have to take action about situations like excess nitrate, nitrates and bacteria entering the environment before entire ecosystems collapsed or required substantial amounts of time and effort to remediate.

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