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The numbers tell the story

July 20, 2011

My wife says that when a letter has too many numbers in it, readers’ eyes glaze over; I say the numbers are important. When a dairy contaminates 150 wells in Brown County, Wis., that is an important number. When a 1,500-cow dairy releases so much hydrogen sulfide that homes are evacuated in Thief River Falls, Minn., the number is important. When there is a 10-mile fish kill on the Sangamon River, Ill., or 2,300 sickened, seven killed in Walkerton, Canada; those are important numbers. When the pollution limit for BOD is 30, and the purple discharge to the Apple River measures over 400, the numbers are important. When Goetsch (IDOA) finally admits, as he did June 11, that the proposed mega-dairy in Jo Daviess County, Ill., could leak as much as 1,000 gallons per acre per day (but that’s OK because he says it won’t happen for 10 or 20 years) — those are important numbers.

It is not OK to contaminate wells, pollute rivers, or force families from their homes. It is not OK to strip the citizens of their rights to fight for clean air and water — and that is what these numbers are all about.

Ken Turner

Warren, Ill.

From the July 20-26, 2011 issue

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