polluted streams brownfields manure on snow drainage tile discharges

Discharges Through Drainage Tiles

Because SE Michigan was mostly forested wetland, when 19th century settlers cleared the trees, they also drained the water, trenching and laying sub-surface drainage tiles. These tiles, clay in the past, plastic now, function as underground streams. Liquids on the surface of fields, whether rainwater or liquid manure, drain to the underground tiles and join the nearest stream.

(above) rolls of plastic drainage tile; installed underground, these "tiles" are major pathway of CAFO pollution

sub-surface tiles

Drainage tiles in Michigan and much of the Midwest are the major pathways of pollution from CAFOs. Almost all of the illegal discharges in our area have been through drainage tiles. These photos show 2 of the 22 illegal discharges documented by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Medina Dr, point of origin, Bean Cr Watershed, with multiple field tile outlets

Henning Drain discharging manure to Bear Creek (River Raisin Watershed), Sept. 20, 2002 --Hartland Farms CAFO

Volunteer monitoring for E. coli bacteria has shown that illegal discharges occur almost every time it rains, and often when it's dry. Whenever liquid manure or milkhouse wastewater enters the tiles, it drains--fast--into streams.

Tile discharging milkhouse waste (Bean/Tiffin/Maumee Watershed) Nov. 25, 2002 --Vreba-Hoff II CAFO, in distance