|Action||Develop requirements that will address concerns regarding transfer and off-site management of poultry waste in the Commonwealth.|
|Comment Period||Ended on 8/21/2009|
I have been fishing recreationally (and more recently, as a means of sustenance) for about 10 years in the Potomac River, Shenandoah River, Occoquan River, Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. All of the aforementioned bodies of water have been contaminated by a whole host of organic and artificial pollutants. The most easily traceable, largest source, and most easily attenuated of the pollutants that muck up our water sources is animal waste. I eat chicken as much as the next guy, and in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, we have a strong cultural tie to poultry. Thank god we have a booming poultry industry to supply us with unending chicken breasts and thighs. It also makes perfect sense to use the poultry manure as a fertilizer. That's phenomenal. Very 'green.' However, when we allow that waste to creep into our streams and rivers, and eventually make its way into the Bay, and ultimately into the coastal Atlantic Ocean, wreaking havoc along the way, then there is a situation that most every citizen would take issue with.
Poultry waste has been repeatedly cited as a major problem for the aquatic ecosystem. It leads to high nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the water which in turn leads to algae blooms. These blooms are responsible for the ensuing dead zones that occur wherein very little fish life can exist. With the absence of sustainable levels of baitfish, the Chesapeake Bay loses numbers of its culturally (and economically) valuable aquatic life (striped bass-aka rockfish, oysters, shad, crabs). This is a major problem and even the Obama Administration has declared the Chesapeake Bay Watershed as a national treasure in crisis. We need to enact policies that protect the poultry farmers and their subsequent use of poultry waste as a fertilizer. But we need to be absolutely certain that all parties are handling said manure in a way that is responsible, otherwise we are literally taking a dump in our region's most important geological gift, the Chesapeake Bay. It would not be very difficult, time consuming, or expensive to place regulations on poultry waste, and clearly the science makes a case for being a virtual necessity to do so. We are losing our Blue Crabs for heaven's sake!! What will it be like when you cannot get a crabcake sandwich in Baltimore, or a slice of flounder in Norfolk? Will it be worth all of the years of flushing the chicken farms' toilets directly into the bay?
Andrew D Mueller