As the debate continues about the proposed 4,000-hog concentrated animal feeding operation to be located centrally within Steuben County’s pristine lake area, I think of Grand Lake St. Marys in Ohio.
Grand Lake St. Marys is dying because of toxic algae caused by manure and fertilizer runoff from watershed lands feeding the lake. The major source of the manure and fertilizer comes from the 450 or so mostly family-owned farms located near the lake. These substances feed the toxic algae that robs the lake of oxygen, kill off fish and release neurotoxins that are dangerous to humans and pets.
On Aug. 22 the Indiana Department of Environmental Management held a public meeting to discuss the situation. IDEM has to follow its own rules and cannot directly block the construction of K&D Contract Pork LLC’s CAFO. As stated in a Sept. 1 column, (“IDEM’s answers on CAFO not enough”), IDEM can only engage its six to seven inspectors who oversee the existing 1,881 CAFOs in the state.
Before Steuben County’s lakes are subjected to the same risks as Grand Lake St. Marys, the plan commission, zoning department and county commissioners need to take action to protect our lakes that are not only a beautiful source of recreation but also a major economic driver for the area. It would be good to read a response from these agencies about what they are doing to address this looming tragedy.
MIKE DOSECK Fort Wayne/Lake Gage