SRAP’s Water Rangers Program Protects Communities’ Right to Clean Water


Industrial livestock operations are widely known for mistreating animals, confining tens of thousands of chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cattle in tight filthy spaces without access to open air or pasture.

However, factory farms have another far-reaching impact with the potential to alter our existence on this planet forever: water pollution.

These facilities are intentionally located in rural areas where residents often lack the political and economic resources to protect themselves.

Low-income communities and  Black, Indigenous, and Latinx populations often suffer the brunt of factory farm water pollution, constituting an egregious environmental injustice that has persisted for decades.

Factory farms generate huge volumes of waste that’s stored in open lagoons and applied to surrounding land.

Weak regulatory policies often result in the overapplication of manure, which runs off and creates a toxic cocktail of chemicals and pathogens that contaminates drinking water wells, kills fish, spawns algal blooms, and renders local waterways unsafe for swimming, fishing, boating, and other recreational uses.

SRAP’s Water Rangers Program works to restore the quality of life for rural community members while providing free training to teach them to take action and hold factory farms accountable for pollution.

Cole Dickerson, Water Rangers program manager, who teaches rural residents how to collect and analyze water samples and document pollution, said:

Rural communities nationwide are advocating for tougher oversight of factory farm water pollution. We help give community members the tools to monitor local waterways and report violations to regulators in order to prompt enforcement action.

The Water Rangers Program works to build strong networks of community scientists who monitor waterways, reversing a decades-long trend of industrial livestock pollution and keeping our environment healthy one stream at a time.

SRAP currently offers state-specific training sessions and resources for Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin—and will expand to more states soon. Visit our Water Rangers Resources page to find water monitoring resources and more.

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About SRAP

For more than 20 years, SRAP has served as a mobilizing force to help communities protect themselves from the damages caused by industrial livestock operations and to advocate for a food system built on regenerative practices, justice, democracy, and resilience. Learn more at