While the farmers continue to deny any responsibility for the dangerous nitrate contamination in county ground water and drinking wells, more studies continue to document the connection between manure management and ground water quality, explain how and why this occurs and offer solutions that could reduce the amount of nitrogen loading.
A primary problem in Whatcom County is the extremely high ground table, making migration of nitrates and groundwater contamination much easier. Instead of listening to any of this, our dairy and livestock farmers continue to deny any responsibility and listen only to the advice of their hired lobbyists and PR man. And it is working. The current draft of the comp. plan provides incentives and voluntary actions in lieu of regulation.
In the DOE publication, Nitrogen Dynamics at a Manured Grass Field Overlying the Sumas-Blaine Aquifer in Whatcom County, March 2014
Publication No. 14-03-001, by Barbara Carey, https://fortress.wa.gov/…/publica…/SummaryPages/1403001.html, the situation could not be more clear.
“The Department of Ecology, in cooperation with Washington State University, conducted a 4-1/2-year monitoring study at a manured grass field overlying the Sumas-Blaine Aquifer in northwest Washington. The purpose of the study was to evaluate nitrogen dynamics at a manured field relative to documented high nitrate concentrations across the aquifer.
“The amount and timing of manure application were the overriding factors that affected groundwater nitrate concentrations in shallow monitoring wells in the study field.
“Nitrogen mass balance analysis and post-harvest soil nitrate results were not reliable predictors of nitrate concentrations in groundwater. Direct monitoring of water quality at the water table was the only accurate and reliable method for tracking effects of manure management on groundwater nitrate.”
Anyone still listening to the farmer’s claims that this is all from geese and dogs? Good, because much better solutions were suggested in this study.
“Reducing nitrate leaching to groundwater at manured dairy fields, like the one in this study over the Sumas-Blaine Aquifer (SBA), will require improving manure application based on evolving science and technology. This includes nitrogen loading analyses that take groundwater into account. Groundwater monitoring will be needed to evaluate the effectiveness of measures to reduce nitrate loading to groundwater.” More specific detailed recommendations follow.