Broiler op in wrong place

Dear Editor:

I am concerned about the proposal to build a huge broiler chicken operation in the watershed area north of Chain Lakes. These lakes are spring fed and do not vary much in depth from year to year as the water flows from the first lake into the second and third lakes, and then into Parlby Creek, which runs into Buffalo Lake and beyond.

The spring runoff, of course, goes the same route and already comes off an area that is farmed with heavy use of manure from the dairy farms in the area. To add a large broiler operation directly into the watershed area seems to me to be a totally unnecessary risk of polluting an extensive water system as broiler manure is said to contain four times as much nitrogen and up to 24 times as much phosphate as cattle manure.

This proposal apparently has been approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB). Approval by a government body with this title is presumably supposed to allow the public to rest assured that natural resources, and particularly water sources, are being protected but this does not appear to be their prime directive.

These intensive operations are now called confined feeding operations (CFO), which presumably raises fewer red flags than the more accurate term used previously, that of intensive livestock operations (ILO). This is an ILO, believe me — 95,000- bird capacity with a life span, if they survive, of 42 days, assuming seven groups per year or 665,000 birds per year, the barns would be about 76,000 square feet in size.

This is a very major investment but it is in the wrong place. It should be placed where there is about two sections of land available to spread the manure and not a quarter section that slopes down to the water course just a half mile from the first lake. However, the NRCB calls their staff approval officers and they approve applications if they are in line with various legislation. The board of the NRCB goes into action only if there is an appeal of the field decision.

As one of my friends said, why on earth don’t they use common sense?

Roy Barrett