WAMU 88.5 : News

Environmental Concerns Top Objections To Arlington Chickens

Play associated audio
Backyard hens are a great source of eggs, but some are concerned about where all the chicken waste goes.
Sarah Gilbert: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cafemama/1751133418/
Backyard hens are a great source of eggs, but some are concerned about where all the chicken waste goes.

As county leaders press forward with an urban agriculture initiative that would, among other things, allow backyard hens in Arlington, many residents say they are concerned about germs and disease. Specifically, residents wonder about what happens to all that chicken waste if fowl are allowed back into residential neighborhoods.

Rules against keeping livestock in Arlington date back at least a half a century — a time when the county was transforming from an agricultural community along the Potomac to an urban environment. Now the pendulum may be swinging in the other direction. Tomorrow, members of an urban agriculture task force will hold their inaugural meeting to consider how the zoning change might work.

George Mason University biology professor David Luther says the main public health risk from chickens is water pollution: "Like all organisms, we defecate a fair bit, and it all has to go somewhere. Generally for anything except humans, it doesn't go through water treatment plants. If the quantity is high, it can be a real problem for the local watershed."

One potential solution under consideration is to require chicken waste be disposed of in an environmentally sustainable way, although critics point out that would require creating a system of enforcement — one that would consume money and staff time. The task force is expected to issue a recommendation next year.

NPR

'Sweetbitter' Is A Savory Saga Of Restaurant Life And Love

Oysters, cocaine, fine wine, love triangles: Stephanie Danler's debut novel Sweetbitter follows a year in the life of a young woman working at a top-tier Manhattan restaurant.
NPR

'Sweetbitter' Is A Savory Saga Of Restaurant Life And Love

Oysters, cocaine, fine wine, love triangles: Stephanie Danler's debut novel Sweetbitter follows a year in the life of a young woman working at a top-tier Manhattan restaurant.
NPR

Is Primary Rivalry Making The Democratic Party Stronger Like It Did In 2008?

It's not the first time we've seen a bitter end to the Democratic primaries. In 2008, divisive moments came through personal attacks. But back then, Clinton and Obama pushed similar ideologies.
NPR

After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, She Channeled Her Ups And Downs Into Texts

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Natalie Sun about her project, textingwithcancer.com. The website won a Webby award, and documents her pessimism and optimism while undergoing chemotherapy.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.