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If chicken houses are bad for the bay, Baltimore sewer pipes are worse

The recent story in The Sun, "No end in sight for city's $1.1 billion overhaul of leaky, polluting sewers" (Sept. 19), describes "an aging, leaky sewer system that routinely fouls area streams and the harbor with raw human waste." Furthermore, with fewer than four months before a court-ordered deadline, the more than $1 billion overhaul is nowhere near done. The story points out that "Whenever the rain pours — and even when it doesn't — the city's streams and harbor are still so contaminated by raw human waste spilled from corroding, porous sewer lines that it's unsafe in most places for people to swim or wade."

Where is the outrage from the Environmental Integrity Project and its anti-chicken industry cronies who recently called for a nine year moratorium on Eastern Shore chicken house construction? Chicken houses being built or planned for Eastern Shore farm families largely are replacing houses that have gone out of production or are allowing the industry to make up for several years of near zero chicken house construction.

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The environmental industry groups calling for a chicken house moratorium strangely are silent on the huge problems with the Baltimore City sewer system.

Baltimore Department of Public Works chief of legal and regulatory affairs, Dana Cooper, is quoted as saying, "The Clean Water Act says no overflows, no unpermitted discharges from the system. However, it is physically impossible to create a system that will never overflow ever in any storm under any conditions."

Chicken houses covered by the Maryland Department of the Environment concentrated animal feeding operation permit have a zero discharge limit except during a 24-hour, 25-year storm — the equivalent of 6 inches of rain in 24 hours on the Eastern Shore.

So, if a chicken house construction moratorium is needed to control zero-discharge chicken farms, then maybe there should be a moratorium on increases in the human population in areas served by the Baltimore City sewer system. We await such a call from the Environmental Integrity Project and its allies.

Bill Satterfield, Georgetown, Del.

The writer is executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.

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