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Contaminants Associated with Swine Confined Animal Feeding Operations Studied

Date Posted: December 1, 2005

The Nebraska Field Office (NEFO) is in the process of completing a final report for a study enitled "Environmental Contaminants Associated with a Swine Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation and Implications for McMurtrey National Wildlife Refuge". This study was a continuation of a previous contaminants investigation (Schwarz et al., 2004) that characterized environmental contaminants in wetlands (17 acres total) created by pork with swine wastewater effluent. The created wetlands are in close proximity to two Service Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) and were designed specifically to attract waterfowl.

In 2002 and 2003, game farm mallards were placed in four enclosures, two on the created wetlands and two on WPAs. After a minimum of 60 days, a health assessment was performed on 56 adult mallards from the enclosures. Study results to date indicate that nutrient rich water, trace elements added to feeds as dietary supplements, and bacterial pathogens from swine waste are potential health threats to waterfowl that utilize the created wetlands. Water delivery to the existing wetlands was discontinued in October of 2004 and a plan for the construction of seven additional created wetlands has been postponed. The final report for the study is near completion and NEFO is currently working with Hastings Pork to develop a subsurface-flow constructed wetland system to filter nutrients, bacteria, and metals before the water is delivered to wetlands created for waterfowl habitat.

Research partners involved with the investigations at Hastings Pork include the U.S. Geological Survey - Biological Resources Division (National Wildlife Health Center and Columbia Environmental Research Center), the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Water Sciences Laboratory, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Biology Department, Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Hastings Pork, and the Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust, Inc.

Contacts:
USFWS Grand Island, Nebraska office (308)382-6468

Links:
USGS National Wildlife Health Center

USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center

Last updated: February 13, 2013