CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – An organization in the east is launching a new project to protect water quality from the impacts of animal agriculture.
According to the Coastal Carolina Riverwatch, algae blooms can form in rivers such as the White Oak River Basin, which is home to several concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFO for short.
To combat this, they’re launching a new project that merges current programs such as ‘Pure Farm, Pure Water’ and ‘Water Quality for Fisheries’ that will include bacteria and DNA sampling in regional waterways. White Oak waterkeeper, Riley Lewis is leading the charge.
“Hopefully we’re going to be able to identify how much bacterial pollution that can come from these hog facilities can impact these oyster and shellfishing industries in the larger part of the new river,” Lewis said.
Pure Farm, Pure Water Coordinator, Larry Baldwin, says their end goal for this project is to reform animal agriculture to protect waterways.
“No matter if it’s hog waste or poultry waste, we can figure out a way to reduce the impact on our waters on streams creeks, and rivers and also just as importantly on the community members that have to live next door to these things,” Baldwin said.
Most research will happen at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort.
Lewis points out that this project isn’t intended to stop CAFOs from their businesses, but to figure out how they can safely co-exist alongside the fishing industry.
“It also results in a lot of runoff and a lot of the bacteria ends up in a lot of the waterways. That’s why we’re the most concerned about its relation to fishing because bacteria is the number one cause of shellfish closures. We want to make sure we’re helping both industries and help identify what’s going on,” Lewis said.
The Coastal Carolina River Watch will start canvassing soon as part of this project. In other words, they’ll be going door-to-door to talk to people living near waterways about what they’re seeing. The research they’re conducting could take months.