A coalition of environmentalists charges Iowa officials are failing to enforce clean water rules for large-scale livestock operations. Sharlene Merk of Audubon joined the group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement because in the past six years, three confinements with 12-thousand hogs have been built within a half mile of her home.Merk says she’s kept a journal, and last year there were 67 days when the hog smell was unbearable. Merk says she and her husband get physically sick from the smell of the manure, and wish the state would take action. Merk says “we all need and deserve clean air and fresh water.” Merk says the state “must do a better job of enforcing existing laws” regulating what she contends are factory farms. Lee Little, a Taylor County Supervisor, says the state should be more aggressive in regulating large-scale livestock operations.Little says the gases coming off the manure pits are incredibly toxic, so toxic that if the fans malfunction, canvas covers drop over the pits to ensure the gases don’t rise and kill the pigs. A report issued by the Environmental Integrity Project charges that the state of Iowa isn’t providing enough resources to regulate so-called “industrial” livestock operations. For example, just one attorney works on the cases against livestock operators who’re accused of violating the law, and just five state workers are responsible for inspecting the manure lagoons and other structures in animal feeding operations.
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