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Water Quality In Nebraska Essay

942 words - 4 pages

NEBRASKA'S WATER QUALITY Water quality in Nebraska isn't too bad right now but our state's legislature is currently allowing widespread contamination of our ground and surface water. Over 40% of the facilities in Nebraska had at least one quarter of last year in significant non-compliance of the Clean Water Act. This makes Nebraska one of the eight worst states in the nation. Right now our waters may be safe for the most part, but if the uncontrolled pollution of our state's water continues, our children may have serious problems.Agriculture is the most widespread source of water quality problems in Nebraska, but urban runoff is also a concern. Agricultural runoff introduces sedimentation, bacteria, pesticides, and nutrients into surface waters. Industrial facilities sometimes allow ammonia, bacteria, and metals into our water. Channelization and hydrologic modifications have had an affect on aquatic life in Nebraska streams by reducing the diversity and availability of habitat. Monitoring has revealed that current water quality criteria for the herbicide atrazine are being exceeded.Nutrient enrichment and sedimentation are the most common water quality problems identified in lakes, followed by siltation, suspended solids, and nutrients. Sources of pollution in lakes include agriculture, construction, and urban runoff. Nebraska also has 36 fish consumption advisories in effect. The contaminants of concern include methyl mercury, dieldrin, and PCBs.Although natural Ground Water Quality in Nebraska is good, hundreds of individual cases of ground water contamination have been documented. Major sources of ground water contamination include agricultural activities, industrial facilities, leaking underground storage tanks, oil or hazardous substance spills, solid waste landfills, wastewater lagoons, and septic systems.Nebraska's anti-corporate farming law, passed in 1982, has discouraged many corporations from establishing large-scale farms in the state. The law prohibits a corporation that is not a family farm from engaging in agriculture in Nebraska. To qualify as a family farm under the law, a majority of the stock must be held by a family member and a member of the family must live on the farm or provide day-to-day labor and management. Nevertheless, in the last two years, the state has seen large operations enter pork production either under general partnerships or by defining themselves as family farm corporations. In 1994, only three of the nation's largest pork producers had farm operations in Nebraska. By 1998, the number had risen to seven.In 1990, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality said that over half of the fish kills caused by human practices were the result of livestock waste runoff. Also, many of the state's waterways have had high levels of fecal coliform bacteria causing swimming and recreation to be prohibited. In some areas residents are suffering the effects of odor problems. For example, neighbors of a hog operation...

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