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Northwest Environmental News

Judge Rules Dairies Are Contamination Yakima Valley Drinking Water

A judge ruled Wednesday that dairies are contaminating drinking water in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by two environmental groups after an EPA study linked the dairies to high nitrate levels in residential drinking wells.

Nitrates come from manure and fertilizers. When they contaminate drinking water, nitrates can cause birth defects and can harm some adults.

Charlie Tebutt, the lead attorney for the groups, says this is the first decision of its kind in the country.

“Manure from industrial dairies, when mishandled, is a solid waste that is causing an immediate threat to human health,” Tebutt says.

Next, the case will head to trial in March. That’s when a judge will decide what corrective measures the dairies should take, like lining lagoons that hold manure with synthetic liners.

Dairies did not return request for comment.

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A dairy in the Yakima Valley. After a more than a year of testing, dairies in Washington’s Lower Yakima Valley are trying to reduce pollution from manure.
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A dairy in the Yakima Valley. After a more than a year of testing, dairies in Washington’s Lower Yakima Valley are trying to reduce pollution from manure.