Farmers often get blamed for pollutant discharge into water near their land, but are they really the bad guys? According to a recent article by Ohio Farm Bureau staff, “municipalities have agreements with Ohio EPA to allow for a certain amount of sewage to be dumped directly into tributaries located in watersheds that flow into Lake Erie.” Permitted livestock farms, however, are not allowed to discharge even an ounce of manure into Ohio’s waterways.
The city of Maumee, Ohio, has exceeded the allowable amount of sewage and has been dumping as much as 150 million gallons of sewage into the Maumee River since 2000. During this same time period, “Ohio farmers have been using new equipment and technology to maximize the placement of nutrients used for crop production. They also are following strict state regulations and participating in voluntary water quality programs like H2Ohio find better management practices to minimize the amount of nutrient runoff from farm fields and into the watershed.”
Help your students better understand the complex array of factors affecting water quality. Feed the World has several lessons that address agricultural practices and water testing. Chemical tests to determine water quality teaches how to analyze the abiotic components of a stream in order to determine overall water quality. Keeping nutrients in their place examines how surface water runoff impacts nutrient placement in lawns and fields.
Thanks to Ohio Farm Bureau for the photo and article referenced here.