Dilemmas

Livestock industry and water          


Model stories livestock industry and water

Livestock industry and water

For many years, several small villages and a large livestock breeding facility have coexisted in an area with ideal conditions for agricultural development. The livestock industry typically creates huge meat production facilities concentrated on a small territory in order to improve work efficiency, facilitate logistics, and significantly reduce the cost of the final product. The concentration of animals at this facility can reach millions of heads, and the related industrial technologies presuppose the use of large quantities of high-quality water, pumped from deep artesian wells.

By contrast, the inhabitants of nearby villages have always used water from the upper water table to meet their needs. The water from these fairly shallow private wells, which are around 20 to 30 metres deep, scarcely ever conforms to quality standards, and therefore requires expensive purification. The villages lack a centralised water supply.

Representatives from the rural community decided to discuss the problem of drinking water supply with representatives from the livestock breeding facility.

Negative

Conflicting interests

The activities of the livestock industrial facility are leading to the depletion of the water table and a rapid drop in groundwater level. This gives rise to conflicts between members of the local community and the business, which is keen to expand production. In addition, production technologies are often misused, resulting in untreated wastewater being dumped into the rivers, ponds and upper water tables that are used by local residents.

Positive

Possible solutions
  • The construction of new, large livestock industrial facilities could be refused.
  • Rural residents, who are suffering as a result of the livestock facility‚Äôs activities, could be connected to a centralised water supply from deep artesian wells.
  • The owners of the facilities could be made to use water from surface water bodies (rivers and lakes) exclusively, accompanied by the thorough treatment of wastewater for reuse.
  • The use of water from artesian wells could be carefully monitored, ensuring its timely replenishment by natural means.

Varying viewpoints


Local authorities
Local authorities are concerned about the shortage of water, but view the construction of the industrial facility as a means to attract more money into the local budget and create new jobs. They often side with investors on the basis of personal interests (corruption).

Business sector
Big businesses are interested in reducing social and environmental expenditure. They view underground water supplies as a cheap (virtually free) resource that can provide them with rapid profits.

Citizens
The construction of the livestock breeding facility had an initially positive reception. Many members of the community received financial remuneration from the investor for the use of their land, while others were given jobs and the hope of improvements to the social infrastructure. The views of the local population are now becoming rapidly radicalised. They are opposed to the expansion of the livestock facility, which would be accompanied by a worsening of the environmental conditions and the exacerbation of the water supply problem.

Environmentalists
Environmentalists insist that such a high concentration of livestock facilities, and the uncontrolled depletion of groundwater, are unacceptable. They advocate environmentally friendly and humane meat production technologies, and strict control over the use of natural resources, particularly water. They oppose attempts to discharge wastewater into rivers.