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Letter: Clean Water Commission sides with corporations

Letter: Clean Water Commission sides with corporations

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Clear Creek Farm lagoon breach

A photo taken on April 21, 2020, and included in a report by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources illustrates a violation at Clear Creek Farm in Atlanta, Mo., and shows a "view of the breach in the lagoon berm. The gravel that was previously used to repair this area of the lagoon berm can also be observed." Photo by Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Regarding "‘Significant’ lagoon breaches are just one problem northern Missouri hog farmer faces" (April 18): On May 18, the Missouri Clean Water Commission voted 5 to 1 to remove “perched water table” from the definition of groundwater table in the design rules for concentrated animal feeding operations. The rulemaking began around the time that United Hog Systems proposed an operation in Livingston County, Missouri, on a site where groundwater was found just feet below the surface. The facility’s application has since been withdrawn, yet the commission’s decision will favor the corporate livestock industry moving forward.

Public comment on this ruling was overwhelmingly against it. Independent farmers and other professionals also raised concern.

In some parts of the state, perched water is the only accessible source of fresh, potable water. Perched water is especially vulnerable to pollution from manure lagoons since it can be found just feet below the surface. Professionals have said there is no scientific basis for excluding “perched water” from CAFO design rules. The design requirements for other facilities, like wastewater treatment plants, account for perched water. For millions of Missourians who rely on groundwater sources of drinking water, this level of risk is completely unacceptable.

According to state statute, all members of the Clean Water Commission shall represent the public interest, have knowledge and have interest in control of water contaminants. In my opinion, this decision demonstrates that five of six commission members are more interested in corporate profits.

Sophie Watterson • St. Louis

Missouri Coalition for the Environment

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