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Hunt Wants to Phase Out Waste Lagoons With Taxpayer Money

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WILSON — Mention cleaning up hog lagoons, and most people will shrug their shoulders. Say it will help clean up water, and more people will listen. Add tax dollars to the equation, and everyone cares.

People would think that Wilson farmer R.C. Cooper would be glad that the burden of paying for a new hog waste system statewide could fall on someone else's shoulders, but he is not.

Cooper does not understand why anyone has to pay all of that money. The way he and many other farmers see it, the current lagoon system does the job just fine.

"I would just ask them and challenge them before they burden the North Carolina taxpayer on phasing out a replacement system, that they carefully look and use some sound scientific logic in their decision process," said Cooper.

Lagoons can damage waterways by leaking or breaking open, but the vast majority in North Carolina work with no problem.

Scientists atN.C. State Universityare working on new systems to treat hog waste. The trouble is that the systems are very expensive, and some have been tested only on a small scale.

There is no system being tested that works as efficiently as the lagoon.

"I think it's important that we talk about specifics, what are the alternatives and to consider that we may be trading one concern for another problem if we don't think through the system as a whole," said agricultural engineer Dr. Philip Westerman.

The plan being formulated byGovernor Jim Huntto phase out waste lagoons would cost taxpayers about $400 million.


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