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Sandy Run tributary to Middle Swamp, Greene County, North Carolina.
Animal feeding operations have measureable effects on stream water quality in many agricultural watersheds in the North Carolina Coastal Plain, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey.
USGS scientists took water samples from 54 agricultural sites in the Coastal Plain area in order to assess water-quality differences among streams draining watersheds with and without concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.
The researchers found that 58 percent of the watersheds containing CAFOs had distinct differences in water quality reflecting swine and/or poultry manure effects. However, 28 percent of the watersheds showed no measurable manure effects on water quality, despite having CAFOs upstream.
North Carolina is one of the Nation’s leaders in animal production, with over 2,300 CAFOs regulated by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Resources. Most of the permitted CAFOs, about 2,000, consist of swine production facilities that are located in the Coastal Plain, and as such, there is substantial interest in understanding their influence on stream water quality.
A full copy of the report, “Surface-Water Quality in Agricultural Watersheds of the North Carolina Coastal Plain Associated with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations,” (http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2015/5080/) is available online.
USGS CoreCast: Groundwater Awareness Week
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