Protect Waterways from Manure Pollution


Target: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy

Goal: Demand reduction in pollution from factory farms and stricter regulations against manure run-off

Though treated human waste no longer poses such a threat to the waterways of the United States, run-off from factory farms is another matter entirely. Manure pollution from supersize farms has already resulted in dead zones within bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay due to the increased levels of phosphorous and nitrogen introduced by animal waste. This devastation must end. Demand that pollutants from factory farms undergo stricter scrutiny and regulations.

Run-off pollution occurs when manure from megafarms—nearly ubiquitous in this day and age—cannot be recycled because there is simply too much of it, and is exposed to environmental conditions that wash it into waterways. The Chesapeake was contaminated by large poultry farms, and though there have been efforts to clean it up, they have proved unsuccessful so far.

Megafarms pose more than just ethical problems concerning the treatment of animals. As the situation in the Chesapeake Bay illustrates, they are a source of dangerous levels of pollution. Without a proper way to dispose of manure, and with laxer regulations than are applied to human waste, continual run-off produces dead zones and threatens aquatic life through creating unnatural algal blooms that deplete oxygen. The impact is even further worsened by the very nature of the waterways themselves. Interconnected rivers, streams, watersheds, and underground reservoirs all but guarantee wide-spread contamination. Extra manure dries into dust as well, and contributes to climate change and air pollution.

There must be stricter rules against animal waste. The appearance of dead zones within our river systems indicates a severe problem that will only continue to worsen if steps aren’t taken to address it. Climate change and pollution from human activities already pose risks to the aquatic environment across the world.  The Environmental Protection Agency has tightened regulations, but it is clear that more must be done. Otherwise, the United States is at risk of massive and wide-spread contamination that threatens waterways. We must demand that the government take action by imposing and following through on stricter regulations.


Dear Administrator Gina McCarthy,

The pollution of the Chesapeake Bay by manure from poultry farms is a fairly recent issue, but it serves to illustrate a much greater problem: the excess waste produced by megafarms and the massive detrimental impact it has on the environment, specifically the waterways. Animal waste has not been as strictly regulated as human sewage, but there is a clear need to impose much stricter regulations.

Factory farming produces far more manure than is manageable, and large-scale contamination has resulted. Washed-away manure floods the environment with nitrogen and phosphorous, resulting in unnatural algae blooms that deplete oxygen and create dead zones in the aquatic environment. On such a large scale, manure has essentially become a toxic substance.

With the looming threats of climate change and global warming, as well as existing pollution, I urge you to impose measures to drastically reduce contaminant run-off. If nothing is done, dead zones will continue to appear and we will face wide-spread and perhaps irreversible damage to the aquatic environment and all species therein. We must not allow this to happen.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit:  Felix Andrews via Wikimedia Commons

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