Protect the Shenandoah River from Livestock Waste

Target: Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia

Goal: Stop the flow of harmful livestock waste entering Virginia’s Shenandoah River.

The Shenandoah River, the main tributary of the Potomac which runs through Virginia and West Virginia, is an important swaterway which provides recreation and sustenance (the river is particularly famous as a location for small-mouth bass fishing) for the people living in the Mid-Atlantic United States.

Despite this, it has fallen victim to a number of environmental troubles. One of these problems, which has been steadily increasing in magnitude for several years, and was reported on recently, is that of livestock waste being injected into the river. This irresponsible form of disposal has lead to massive E. coli blooms in the scenic waterway, potentially devastating ecosystems and sickening the many people who swim, boat, and fish in the river.

A recent report from ABC News made clear that every year, for at least the past several years over 400,000 pounds of poultry litter and a billion pounds of  liquid manure—the byproduct of raising millions of chickens, cows, and turkeys—have been dumped into the Shenandoah Valley, with much of this waste ending up in the Shenandoah River. Because of this, over the past two years, many parts of the river have been found to contain highly unsafe levels of E. coli.

The report also found high levels of phosphorus—which leads to toxic algae blooms and low-oxygen “dead zones”, a primary cause of fish kills—in the river.

The report stressed, “The state issues public advisories warning beachgoers to stay out of the ocean when bacteria levels do not meet the recreational standard. But the state provides no such notice when the Shenandoah Valley and other rivers and streams are contaminated, even when E. coli levels are more than 100 times the recreational limit.”


Dear Governor McAuliffe,

Please pressure your state government to enact laws and reforms which will protect the Shenandoah River, which has, over the past decade, experienced a huge spike in levels of E. coli and phosphorus, from further pollution—particularly that caused by livestock waste.

The continued contamination of the Shenandoah poses a major threat to both wildlife (including important fish stocks) and the many people who utilize the river for recreation. Excess phosphorous due to manure injection has the potential to cause toxic algae blooms and deoxygenated “dead zones”, which can lead to fish kills; and high levels of E. coli can sicken swimmers, boaters, and others.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Dwayne P.

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  1. More evils of the farming industry.


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