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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county
Monterey feed lot gets renewed permit
February 2010

Despite the fact that the Salinas River is already listed as “impaired” under the Federal Clean Water Act, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board renewed the permit for a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Monterey County. The operation, Gallo Feed Lot, is located on Johnson Creek near the city of Gonzales. It has the capacity to hold 30,000 head of cattle.

The Ventana Chapter commented on the permit renewal and requested a 90-day extension so that the public would be better informed and would have a chance to comment.

The excessive size and density of animals on CAFOs pose problems with air and water pollution from manure and the overuse of antibiotics. At full capacity the 30,000 cattle confined by the Gallo operation would produce as much waste as 600,000 people, but unlike a large city, a CAFO is not required to treat this sewage.

The Water Board did not require a groundwater monitoring plan before issuing the permit. Instead, the discharger will develop such a plan in the future, a sequence which the Chapter believes is inappropriate.

The Gallo Feed Lot potentially will discharge into Johnson Creek, a tributary of the Salinas River. The calculations for the adequacy of the sewage lagoons (discharge ponds) are suspect because they contain data from November to February, omitting March, which can be a rainy month. Additionally, the sewage lagoons drain to ponds adjacent to crop land where contamination by E. coli is a possibility.

Most sections of Monterey County’s major watersheds fail to meet water quality standards set by the Federal Clean Water Act. We expect the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to work toward meeting these standards and providing clean water for Monterey County residents.

To get involved in this issue contact Julie Engell, , 920-2734.

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