After Hurricane Florence, when you read the newspapers, it looked like North Carolina faced an environmental disaster because of flooded hog farm lagoons. But, as it turns out, the media got it wrong. Which isn’t a surprise.
When the NC Department of Environmental Quality gave its report on Hurricane Florence damage to the General Assembly’s Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources, hog farms weren’t the problem by a long shot. There are 3,000 lagoons on hog farms in counties hit by Florence but only a fraction – less than 2% – experienced breaches, flooding or overflows during the hurricane.
At the same time, municipal sewage treatment plants spilled 87 million gallons of waste into creeks, rivers and the Atlantic Ocean, a problem which the media largely ignored.
A whopping 44% of the municipal sewage treatment facilities facilities had problems during the hurricane and what that means is simple: We have to start preparing for the next major storm by focusing our attention on those sewage treatment plants.
It’s hard not to wonder: Is the media interested in explaining and solving real problems? Or is it simply interested in writing sensational eye-catching stories – in this case about lagoons – in the hope those stories will get more ‘clicks’ and sell more internet ads?