Oregon values our clean water and our natural resources but mega-dairies and other factory farms drain and pollute our water supplies including drinking water.
Factory farms—especially dairies—use a lot of water. The antiquated “lagoon and spray” system of animal-waste management that factory farms use requires crops to absorb nitrates in the waste and those crops need to be watered to grow. Some factory farms also need to irrigate crops to feed the livestock. In addition, the animals themselves require water, for example, each cow at a dairy drinks 30-50 gallons of water per day. Finally, factory farms need water for operations such as washing barns, running machinery and at dairies, cooling milk. All told, a factory farm can use as much water as a small city. And a mega dairy with 30,000 cows (the intended size of Lost Valley Farm) uses approximately as much water as the City of Bend.
Factory farms also contribute to significant water contamination in surrounding communities. From lagoons that are designed to leak to overapplication of manure wastewater to crops fields, these pollutants reach our surface and groundwater. Manure that leaches into groundwater degrades surrounding communities’ water quality and causes harmful algal blooms that make the state’s waters uninhabitable for fish and other aquatic animals. In 2019, Oregon mega-dairies produced 6.5 billion pounds of manure—over 42 times the waste produced by the entire population of Portland. Except that unlike municipal wastewater, the wastewater from factory farms is untreated. And it doesn’t just contain nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, but also anything excreted by the animals, including pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, and pathogens.
Take Action to protect our water from the harmful impacts of factory farms. It’s time for a factory farm moratorium in Oregon.