Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) aka factory farms
There are more factory farms in the Cape Fear River Basin than any other place on planet Earth. Yes-you read that right. There are over 5 million hogs, over 16 million turkeys, and 300 million chickens produced annually in the Cape Fear Basin.
The pollution discharge from both swine and poultry CAFOs is enormous. These discharges contain nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, heavy metals such as copper, toxic gases including methane, hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia and deadly bacteria and viruses such as MRSA and salmonella. Regulation and oversight of CAFOs is almost nonexistent. CFRW believes strongly that CAFOs threaten the water quality of the Cape Fear Basin.
The negative impacts these pollutants are having on the Cape Fear are only partially known. However, based upon what is known, these CAFOs are having a serious impact on the River’s health. Scientific studies conducted at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington have established significant degradation from CAFO operations. This degradation occurs on a routine basis as untreated swine and poultry waste runs off of farm fields where it is sprayed as fertilizer. As a result, algae grow in overabundance causing oxygen levels to decline, fish to die and tributaries to become clogged with massive vegetative growth. At times, catastrophic pollution events occur.
To learn even more,
this Pew report may be helpful.