For Immediate Release (Thursday, August 18, 2005):
Contact: Justin Taylor, 512-477-1729 or 512-458-4428
Donna Hoffman, 512-477-1729 or 512-299-5776
Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club consists of over 25,000 members.
The Chapter spans the entire state of Texas, excepting El Paso, which
is part of the Rio Grande Chapter.
Located in Austin, the Lone Star Chapter's State Conservation Office
serves Sierrans as their grassroots communications center. We also provide
Sierrans with a full time professional activist staff employed to represent
Sierrans as we fight at the state level to protect and conserve Texas'
diverse and valuable natural heritage.
Sierra Club Seeks Disclosure of Secret Waste Management Plans
Files Request with State Environmental Agency Seeking Release of Plans Intended to Protect Water Quality from Industrial Dairy Wastes
( Austin)—The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club has filed a request with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to make secret waste management plans from industrial-type dairies publicly available. These waste management plans – known as NMPs or nutrient management plans – regulate the amount of animal waste that can be applied to land by dairy or other CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations, which may involve hundreds or even thousands of cows or other animals).
These dairy and other CAFOs generate enormous amounts of waste, estimated at over 200 billion pounds per year in Texas. This waste is applied to surrounding land as fertilizer, but the enormous volume generated has led to the over-saturation of fields with nutrients and bacteria, which in turn run off to adjacent creeks and streams. These excess nutrients and bacteria have polluted many streams in the state, most notably in the North Bosque River watershed. As a result the water in Lake Waco, the drinking water supply for over 200,000 McLennan County residents, has experienced chronic taste and odor problems.
The nutrient management plans NMPs are vital to ensuring that CAFO-generated waste is applied in a manner that will not inundate fields with excess nutrients and bacteria and further degrade water quality. However, under new TCEQ rules, CAFOs may keep these plans secret. In fact, TCEQ has not even bothered to review these plans itself. Because TCEQ is shielding these plans from public inspection, citizens have no way to assess the adequacy of the plans during the permitting process. Under federal law the public is given the right to enforce these plans, but this is made virtually impossible by TCEQ’s decision to keep the requirements of the plans a secret from the public.
“The public availability of these nutrient management plans is essential to protecting Texas’ waterways from CAFO pollution and to upholding the idea of citizens and communities’ right to know how their government is, or is not, protecting them” said Justin Taylor, Director of the Sierra Club’s Texas Water Sentinels Project.
Attached to this press release is the Open Records Request that names the specific CAFOs for which we are seeking nutrient management plans.
The Water Sentinels Project strives to educate and involve citizens on water quality issues. The Texas Water Sentinels Project has been studying and documenting water quality pollution from dairy CAFOs in Central Texas since 2001.