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Home > Healthy Great Lakes, Healthy Michigan > Facing Problems With an Existing CAFO?

Facing Problems With an Existing CAFO?

GIS rendered map of Bean Creek watershed, showing Lenawee County CAFOs.Where to begin your CAFO Investigation:  Understand what you see.

Sierra Club's investigations are designed to determine if there is evidence of ongoing, past or potential future water pollution from a CAFO. The basic protocol on this website is used for most animal factories, with adjustments based on the availability of information and site-specific factors. You start by reviewing publically available information from websites and public rights of way.

Example:  The image shows the Bean-Tiffin Watershed as it relates to the River Raisin and the St. Joseph River.  Several CAFOs are also marked on the map with Xs, to show which creeks and rivers may be affected by their activities.  The information to make the map came from publicly available Geographic Information System data, and on-the-ground investigation by volunteers.


Pull together your investigation toolbox.

There are three levels of investigation toolboxes: a basic toolbox, an intermediate toolbox, and a full toolbox. If you're just getting started, the basic toolbox should be adequate. As you develop your CAFO investigation skills, you may begin acquring tools in the intermediate and advanced boxes.

Remember, before you go on a CAFO investigation:
  • Always wear something with lots of pockets that close (to keep your camera or phone from falling out).
  • Keep the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality PEAS phone number handy (Hint:  save it in your cell phone!): 1-800-292-4706.  Read more about the Pollution Emergency Alerting System here.

Once you've assembled your toolbox and understand the background of the problem, you're ready to learn how to create a layout of the CAFO.

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