Tractor sprays liquid waste on a field

Clean Water

Restoring Pure Michigan: Tackling Livestock Pollution to Protect Clean Water

A comprehensive analysis of how the largest livestock operations pollute Michigan's waters, and how the state can fix it.

Michigan is known as the “Water Wonderland.” From the Great Lakes on all sides to the many streams, lakes, and rivers within, water is the essence of “pure Michigan.” Unfortunately, these waters are facing grave risks due to the rise of industrial-scale agricultural pollution.

Every single day, the animals confined on Michigan’s 290 largest livestock operations — known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs — generate 62.7 million pounds of feces and other waste. That’s 17 million more pounds per day than the state’s entire human population of 10 million. This report describes how that animal waste is generated, how it ends up polluting the state’s waters and harming human health, and how the state’s legal and regulatory system is failing to curb it.

This comprehensive report also provides recommendations for how Michigan can achieve cleaner water, including by better regulating CAFOs. In short, CAFO permits and water standards need to be stronger, they need to be properly enforced, and the state needs to stop spending money on things that aren’t working.

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