The Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club plans to monitor water pollution that it says is caused by large animal feeding operations in the state.

The environmental group has taken on the “Water Sentinel Project” because it says the state of Michigan is not doing enough to prevent environmental damage and protect citizens. The group will use volunteers to monitor water quality downstream from livestock feeding operations.

"Michigan citizens are tired of waiting for the state to do its job," said Rita Jack, director of the Water Sentinel Project to the Detroit News.

The Sierra Club is not the first citizen group to monitor water quality in the state. The Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan, already monitors water quality around nine dairy operations in Lenawee County.

The state Department of Environmental Quality is charged with monitoring large feeding operations, and through its Surface Water Quality Division already monitors water quality in the state’s waterways. In addition, they respond to citizen complaints.

Despite the DEQ’s role, the Sierra Club says the state fails to monitor water quality in streams near animal factories. The group plans to use residents who live near the farming operations for its monitoring program.

The Sierra Club says its first targets will be livestock operations near:

  • Butts Creek and Rattail Creek in the Chippewa River watershed in Mecosta County.
  • Deer Creek and Crockery Creek in the Grand River watershed near Coopersville.
  • Little Rabbit River and Red Run in the Kalamazoo River watershed in Allegan County.

Sierra Club chapters in the states of Kentucky, Hawaii, Illinois and Texas have undertaken similar projects in the past.

The Detroit News, Associated Press