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GLIN==> MSU Beef Cattle Research Center Violates Clean Water Act

For Immediate Release                                     Contact: Anne Woiwode 517-484-2372
January 31, 2005
Michigan State University in Violation of Clean Water Act at
Livestock Operations
Sierra Club Investigation of Discharges at Beef Cattle Facility Prompts Notice of Violation
            Severe E.coli bacteria contamination of the Red Cedar River in East Lansing over the past forty years may be linked to serious pollution problems at livestock facilities on the Michigan State University campus.  A Sierra Club investigation of pollution from a livestock operation at Michigan State University has led the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to direct MSU to apply for a water quality permit for its concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) by February 24th and stop any additional discharges of pollutants into waterways which drain into the Red Cedar River. 
Dean Jeffrey Armstrong of the MSU School of Agriculture and Natural Resources has committed in a letter to Sierra Club that the school will obtain permit coverage, and agrees MSU must ?lead by example.? The MDEQ violation letter sent to MSU on January 24th states that ?it is imperative that there are no additional discharges from the MSU facilities or operations? and notes that MDEQ will conduct routine investigations of the site to verify compliance. 
Sierra Club representatives will also continue closely monitoring the MSU Beef Cattle Research and Teaching facility for remedial actions by MSU and any additional discharges, in particular with temperatures rising above freezing later this week.  ?The MSU facilities have an extremely serious water pollution problem that has likely been discharging for the last forty years, without any auditing or oversight by authorities at MSU,? according to Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club?s Michigan Director.  ?We are encouraged that MSU has committed to come into compliance, but will continue to monitor until a permanent resolution is in place.?
            The Sierra Club became concerned about possible pollution from livestock operations at MSU in late December and early January when consultant Alex Sagady noticed discharges of highly turbid wastewater from the Beef Cattle Research and Teaching Facility at the corner of Beaumont and Bennett Roads. Samples collected by Sierra Club downstream from the Beef Facility on January 4th were tested at a DEQ certified laboratory, with results from the east side of the facility showing 5.2 million E.coli colonies per 100 ml, 17,000 times the Michigan standard for short term skin contact by humans, and on the west 500,000 E.coli colonies per 100 ml.
The MDEQ letter to MSU states the agency had verified a direct connection between the discharge on the west side of the facility to the Red Cedar River, but had not yet determined a connection from the east side of the facility to waters of the United States.  Sierra Club, using a drainage map prepared by the MSU Parks and Grounds, contends that the waste running from silage and an open livestock lot on the east side of the facility is draining into Herron Creek and from there into the Red Cedar River.  The Red Cedar River runs through neighborhoods in Meridian Township, the MSU main campus and into the Grand River in Lansing.  For many years high levels of E.coli in the Red Cedar River have led to restrictions on the use of the river for any uses involving contact. 
Background material on the pollution problems at the MSU Beef Cattle Research and Teaching Facility are available at the following websites:
Consultant's memo report on problems at MSU Beef Cattle Center:

MDEQ letter to MSU, January 24, 2005

Photographs of pollution problems at MSU Beef Cattle Research and Teaching Center:

Condition of the west side discharge point #1 on 12/31/2004:
Condition of the west side discharge point #1 on 01/04/2005; this water was tested and indicated 500,000 cfu/ 100 ml for  E. Coli:
A similar discharge at this site noted on 01/02/2005.
Conditions on the east side of Beef Cattle Center on January 13, 2005 3 PM at East Discharge point #2 [similar conditions noted at 1:30 AM and 5:30 AM]:

Turbid appearance of east side discharge point #2 MSU wastewater on 01/13/2005 at 3 PM:

Ponding of effluent from high flow behind drivewater culvert restriction with polluted flow out of culvert due east down hill:

Polluted flow reaches 12 inch MSU tile inlet at base of hill on north side of Bennett:

Polluted flow reaches grate cover to 12 inch tile junction box on south side of Bennett;  MSU drain maps indicate this junction box connects to Herron Creek and waters of the United States. A 1:30 AM observation of this junction box area showed foams and highly turbid wastewater was indicated during all observations on 01/13/2005.This junction box also contains mystery 6 inch tile draining upgradient area...source presently not known:

MSU drain maps shows 12 inch tile goes to Herron Creek.   Slow drain condition also causes
flow to ground south of Bennett in ponded area:

Anne Woiwode, Director, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906
517-484-2372, fax 517-484-3108  www.michigan.sierraclub.org

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039 
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com