Hog farms suffering and lagoons overflowing, but full extent is unknown
Hog farmers have implemented many improvements since Hurricanes Mathew and Floyd and they seem to be paying off in reduced problems with waste lagoons. No breaches have been reported and the number of lagoons overflowing is small.Posted — Updated
As floodwaters rise in North Carolina, hog farms become a big concern.
And overall, the North Carolina Pork Council says those precautions helped reduce the impacts to the nearly 2,100 hog farms in the state. According to the Department of Environmental Quality, as of noon Wednesday, 21 lagoons had overflowed, 36 more were likely to, and 17 were inundated because of the storm.
"I saw a number of inundated spray fields where hog waste is applied by an enormous sprinkler on the fields -- so that would wash those pollutants, basically raw sewage into the waterways," said Forrest English, a river keeper with Sound Rivers.
After Hurricane Floyd in 1999, more than 300 hog lagoons in flood plains were closed.
It will be hard to measure the environmental impacts of this storm for some time.
About 5,000 pigs have died as a result of Hurricane Florence -- about twice as many as in Hurricane Matthew.
North Carolina is home to about 8.9 million hogs and the state's pork industry is estimated to add about $2.5 billion a year to the state economy.
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