SHOWELL, Md. - Neighbors in Worcester County have formed a new group to fight back against a proposed large chicken farm operation, which is known as a "CAFO."
This comes as the Maryland Department of the Environment is currently considering final approval of a water discharge permit for the proposed poultry farm.
"[We] just want to make people aware of what impact this would have," said Gail Jankowski, co-founder of the new group, "The Protectors of the St. Martin River," along with her husband.
The group is made up of dozens of neighbors and communities along the St. Martin River and within its watershed.
The proposed CAFO would be built on a piece of property on Peerless Road near Route 113 in Showell.
A big worry is that storm water runoff from the poultry farm will end up in local waterways and pollute them.
That's because located behind the proposed CAFO property is Middle Branch, which runs into the Shingle Landing Prong, before flowing into the Saint Martin River.
"All that nutrient ends up in the water, which causes an algae bloom, which kills all the grasses on the bottom, which makes it difficult for the fish to survive," said Joe Jankowski.
In 2016, the Saint Martin River once again received the lowest grade, a D+, on the Maryland Coastal Bays Report Card. That report card measures the health of coastal bays.
"Our concern is if we're already on a body of water that's impaired, why allow something to be built that will impair it further," said Gail.
A spokesman for MDE said the decision of the application will be approved based on whether it meets the requirements, including a plan to address natural resource concerns related to livestock operations.
The spokesman adds MDE does consider public comments in reaching its decision.
The department said it does not have a specific timeframe for a decision regarding the application.
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