Manure from chickens, turkeys and other livestock animals are thought to be the main source of high levels of E.coli in one of Virginia’s scenic rivers, according to a new report from The Environmental Integrity Project. The report includes data from hundreds of state records the environmental advocacy group analysed.
The Shenandoah River is a popular place for canoeing, river tubing and other recreation, but now all those activities are in danger, not to mention the wildlife and ecosystems which depend on the river.
The report stated that more than 90 percent of the water quality stations where the river’s water is regularly sampled detected E.coli at dangerous levels for the past two years. Phosphorus was also found at elevated levels which could cause “dead zones” in the water where algae overtakes the surface of the water and lowers oxygen levels.
The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation denies the report against the area’s farmers and their management of the one billion gallons of liquid manure a year system not adequately protecting the water quality. Farms have strict manure disposing policies and often recycle the waste into fertilizer.
The Farm Bureau Federation’s Director of Commodities and Marketing Wilmer Stoneman said that the report is an opinion piece and there are other sources that could be contributing to the E.coli contamination including waste-water treatment, residential runoff and natural wildlife.
Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project, understands farming to be a big part of the area of Shenandoah’s culture, but the public has a right to know the dangers. There are no public warnings to let people know that some areas of the river has extremely high contamination levels.
Associated Press contributed to this report