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11/10/2011 6:50:00 PM
Chicago environmental center steps into Kosciusko County CAFO debate

Daniel Riordan, Times-Union Staff Writer

An out-of-state agency has listed rivers and lakes in Kosciusko County as some of the “most neglected” bodies of water in Indiana, though a spokesman for the agency admits using anecdotal evidence.

The Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center is behind the website

The website has different stories on areas of concern with one that is titled “Factory Farms Threaten Kosciusko County Lakes and Streams.”

“We were looking at kind of the people's stories,” said Peter Gray of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We found the key issues affecting Indiana.”

Using the story of Marjorie Vance, a Claypool resident who has brought her concerns with CAFOs to public boards, the story uses anecdotal and non-scientific information to state that Kosciusko County is at risk.

“CAFOs are the major reason. Kosciusko County has 77 hog, poultry and dairy CAFOs, more than all but five of the state’s 92 counties,” states the article.

The article does not mention that Kosciusko County is the fourth largest county landwise.

Also, the four counties with more CAFOs aren’t listed on the website.

Gray said a lot of lakes and streams in Kosciusko County are impaired.

“We talked to a couple of folks in the area,” said Gray, who said his group did look at some hard and quantitative data.

His group, however, didn’t talk to Kosciusko Lakes and Streams, which is charged with protecting and improving the water quality of lakes and streams in the county.

Dr. Nate Bosch is the director of Kosciusko Lakes and Streams as well as assistant professor of environmental science at Grace College.

“All of this points to the continued need for research to identify nutrient sources and quantities in Kosciusko County lakes and streams,” said Bosch.

He also took some issue with the conclusions reached by the website.

“It’s worth clarifying that a subset of our recent lake study data was noted as being evidence of the impairment of our lakes. Yet the data reported were the results for just a single parameter at one timepoint in our study,” said Bosch. “In addition, these results showed microcystin levels below established risk guidelines. In Indiana, IDEM uses 6 parts per billion (ppb) of microcystin toxin as a warning. All microcystin levels were below 6 ppb in our cited data.”

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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