Magazine article The Futurist

Improving Water Quality

Magazine article The Futurist

Improving Water Quality

Article excerpt

Reducing livestock wastes dumped into U.S. waterways could significantly boost the quality of water in some rural areas, according to economists Suzie Greenhalgh and Paul Faeth of the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank in Washington, D.C.

The Clean Water Act currently does not require a discharge permit for animal feeding operations with fewer than 1,000 animal units (one unit equals a cow or calf weighing 1,000 pounds). As a result, only 1% of the 1.1 million farms in the United States have permits. The impact of animal waste on water quality is considerable: "The 1,600 dairy farms in California's Central Valley, for example, produce an amount of waste equivalent to that of 21 million people, or seven times more than the people living in the Central Valley produce," write Greenhalgh and Faeth in the Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy.

One innovative strategy to improve overall water quality also promises to lower the cost of complying with government regulations. In water trading, wastewater treatment plants and industrial treatment plants must collectively keep their overall pollution discharges into a watershed below a level mandated by law. …

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