GEORGETOWN, Del.- Delmarva poultry farmers have long been getting heat for pollution caused by chicken waste.
Estimates conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency blame that particular waste for six percent of all nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. However, the poultry industry argues that the data are outdated and overstated.
A new University of Delaware study is in agreement with the farmers' argument. The study finds that not only is the amount of chicken manure much less than what the EPA estimates but the nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations are also far lower.
The poultry industry wants the EPA to re-evaluate its numbers and ease regulations on local farmers.
"The EPA is overestimating the quantity of manure by about five-fold," said Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. Executive Director Bill Satterfield.
When it comes to concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous, the study suggests a roughly two-fold overestimate.
"That's hurting Delmarva farmers," added Satterfield, "because the EPA numbers are being used in the Chesapeake Bay watershed implementation plans, we think the EPA numbers are just wrong and are asking chicken growers and farmers who use this locally produced organic fertilizer to do more than their fair share proportional to their share of water pollution."
Tommy Landers, campaign director with Environment Maryland in Baltimore, said that he does not think the EPA should ease off on poultry industry regulations.
"We all need to be vigilant in making sure that something that is so beautiful and precious and economically valuable as the Chesapeake Bay becomes restored," Landers said, "I think that means people need to stop pointing fingers at others. What we have to do is look at poultry production and realize that there's too much manure for the land in this region to handle."
Satterfield said that the data have been shared with both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the EPA Chesapeake Bay workgroup.
The workgroup is set to review the study this month and begin an analysis to figure out whether the university's data are correct.