Jul 17, 2019

Tennessee Chicken Houses May Cause Water Quality Issues

Community worries poultry facilities may cause pollution and odor issues

Community worries poultry facilities may cause pollution and odor issues

In the community of Taft, Tenn., residents are concerned over water quality with a chicken house being built near wellheads that supply the community’s water. 

According to WAFF, the wellheads supply water to more than 20,000 residents. At a recent county meeting, many expressed concerns over the possible smell, quality of life and property, and the pollution that may contaminate the water supply. 

One group, the Concerned Citizen of Taft (CCOT), came together over concern that the chicken houses may effect the drinking water supply. According to WAFF, CCOT has gathered more than 2,000 signatures and sent more than 1,400 letters to community officials. 

“What we wanted them to do is do their job and protect our water," said Dottie Berry, CCOT founder, to WAFF.

According to CCOT, the wellheads should serve the more than 20,000 residents of Taft; however, only eight wellheads currently are operational with a “37% ongoing water loss.” Resident Loree Beth Sowards recently discovered that 10 wellheads have not been in the protection area on the Well Protection Map. According to WAFF, there are two zones around the wellheads. One zone protects 750 ft around the site, and the second zone is to examine potential contaminants.

According to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) officials, the proposed poultry houses will most likely be within the second zone, which makes it compliant. TDEC officials are not positive because the map is outdated. It was last updated in 2011. 

Tennessee law requires a facility to “obtain a permit if they plan to discharge material or have liquid waste management,” according to WAFF. The chicken houses allegedly have no plans to discharge such material, reported WAFF.

“We have government officials higher than our county telling us they don’t know what’s going on down here. So that’s extremely concerning," Berry told WAFF.