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Mickelson Pushes Easier CAFO Rules While Scientists Find More Bacteria in Big Sioux

House Bill 1140, the latest move in Rep. G. Mark Mickelson’s ongoing effort to make it easier to build giant concentrated animal feeding operations in South Dakota, has passed the House and awaits the attention of Senate State Affairs.

Meanwhile, the river running through G. Mark’s Sioux Falls is an alarming mess. Scientists are finding all sorts of dangerous organisms in the Big Sioux River:

A research team from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology told the East Dakota Water Development District on Thursday that what they found was “a little alarming.”

“We found Shiga toxin genes in levels that are equivalent to what you would see in Third World countries, where people are dying in massive outbreaks,” School of Mines graduate student Kelsey Murray said Thursday.

…Fully 95 percent of the samples pulled from Skunk Creek and the Big Sioux River last summer contained Shiga toxin and veratoxin, two of the virulence indicators that can turn often-harmless E. coli into the disease-causing O157:H7.

Another genetic virulence indicator called Intimin was present in 100 percent of the samples. That gene, swapped freely and replicated by E. coli, helps colonies embed themselves in the human gut and thrive.

“We have all the ingredients in the Big Sioux to create one of these super bugs,” said Kelsey Murray, a graduate student at the School of Mines [John Hult, “Precision Testing Shows Danger in Big Sioux,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.02.20].

Everything is connected, Rep. Mickelson. When you make it easier for factory farms to build and produce city-sized manure stockpiles in the Big Sioux watershed, you make it easier for people to get sick and die from interacting with the Big Sioux River.


  1. C Carter 2016-02-24 08:40

    A study done for Sioux Falls in 2013 ( found that more than 50% of the bacterial load in the Big Sioux River arises from crop fields. The source of pathogenic enteric bacteria in fields is primarily the application of manure. Bacteria are known to survive in soil and to enter surface and ground water ( ,, ).
    As CAFOs increase in size and number, the frequency and volume of manure applications to fields also increase, resulting in ever higher bacterial loads in our waterways. DENR requires soil tests to determine how much manure can be applied. However, these tests are based only on nitrogen and phosphorus content. Bacterial loads are not measured. Manure applications are also allowed over tiled fields, which increases the flow of nitrates and bacteria into waterways.

  2. larry kurtz 2016-02-24 09:12

    Why worry now?

  3. Curt Jopling 2016-02-24 09:28

    There goes SDSMT funding.

  4. Paul Seamans 2016-02-24 10:21

    I haven’t figured out Mark Mickelson’s stake in all this. Campaign funding for the run at the governorship?

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-24 10:24

    Paul, that’s one reasonable assumption, or more generally plain old favoritism toward big corporations and big money, knowing that corporate farmers are more likely to support Republicans than all those pesky McGovernite small farmers. It’s always easier to keep power and money concentrated in a few hands.

  6. Disgusted Dakotan 2016-02-24 10:45

    There is an important distinction to be made here. This is a perfect example of a crony-capitalist who masquerades as a Republican. He is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Republicans explicitly do not support this type of back door subversion of private property rights.

  7. Les 2016-02-24 10:50

    It looks like Cory had your answer on Mickelson’s stake in all this, Paul..Cory@”Everything is connected, Rep. Mickelson.”

    Mines won’t lose any funding. It’s more likely a, “hey look over here” while we deep borehole explore over there.

    BTW, isn’t the toxin similar to the one found on cruise ships that kill rather handily?

  8. Stumcfar 2016-02-24 13:02

    So are you South Dakotans drinking directly from the river. I like the scare tactics “third world countries”, “ingredients to create a super bug”. Oooh scary stuff. Don’t drink from the river. Nearly every river on earth has scary shiga toxins in them. That is why you are to never drink water that hasn’t been treated. I like liberals who constantly try scare everyone into believing their radical gobbliegook!!

  9. larry kurtz 2016-02-24 13:06

    So-called ‘Americans for Prosperity’ a Koch-funded group with a lobbyist based in Sioux Falls signaled to legislators that they will lose campaign funding from the Kochs unless they act to reverse the progress the US Environmental Protection Agency has made in South Dakota.

    Unfortunately, in South Dakota, the Department of Ecocide and Natural Ruination (DENR) is governed by those same offenders and therefore effectively neutered.

    When Republican domination is literally deadly to wildlife and humans alike maybe it’s time for a little hope and change.

  10. Eve Fisher 2016-02-24 13:16

    Clean, drinkable water; clean, breathable air; radical gobbligook will literally save your life. :)

  11. Stumcfar 2016-02-24 13:25

    How’s that pheasant population? Numbers have been increasing the last two years???? How is that possible with the GOP killing them according to scientist Larry. Maybe Larry should have a drink from Skunk Creek!

  12. Paul Seamans 2016-02-24 14:08

    Stumcfar; if the liberals are attempting to scare me about South Dakota’s deteriorating water quality then I would say, “Mission Accomplished”. I am scared about where our drinking water quality is headed. From the 13th dirtiest river in the nation, the Big Sioux, to the proposal to use in situ uranium mining near Edgemont our states water quality is under attack. Add in the proposals to store out of state nuclear waste in boreholes and you are damn right that I am concerned. Stumcfar, you should be also.

  13. Stumcfar 2016-02-24 14:28

    Paul, are you doing your own research or just drinking the liberal koolaid, which is far more toxic than any SD river!

  14. Mark Winegar 2016-02-24 14:33

    Keep in mind how difficult it is to clean polluted waters. It wasn’t that long ago when Sioux City’s water was caught falsifying data on water quality. It could happen here. Think about the citizens of Flint, MI who are being poisoned while Nestle freely bottles nearby fresh water for sale. BTW, Michigan’s Governor is a Republican with South Dakota connections.

  15. Roger 2016-02-24 14:35

    too bad the pheasant population is only growing because Pheasants Forever are dumping huge amounts of money into releasing birds. So the Big Sewer is bad, but should we give up on it? i don’t want to spill my kayak, get a mouth full of water and end up in the hospital… dam co-pays are bad enough.. there is a way to fix it, but nobody has the will….

  16. Les 2016-02-24 14:50

    All the koolaid is toxic, Stum. Ours as well. Look to the bottom of the barrel we scratched up for presidential candidates. We’ve guaranteed a Clinton or Bloomberg presidency. You liking that juice?

    Last I knew the pheasant wasn’t drinking out of the river though they can and will in drouth.

    Why are we putting our children on digestive anti reflux drugs at 10 months.

    Are you my unconcerned farmer next door telling me how you are feeding the world alongside Monsanto? Hero?

    Their bad science is no better than our bad science and young Mick ain’t his pappy by any means.

  17. Paul Seamans 2016-02-24 15:15

    Stump, you got me there. No, I am not doing my own research. I don’t have the ability to take water samples and test them with my chemistry set. I rely on the research that is presented to reporters from various media. Maybe you can help me out and steer me away from the research that is invalid.

  18. mike from iowa 2016-02-24 15:48

    Anyone done a study to see which party confined animals vote for?

  19. Daniel Buresh 2016-02-24 15:59

    There are documented cases of people who have contracted hepatitis from the Big Sioux River. I wouldn’t get anywhere near it. The James and Missouri don’t even compare to how disgusting the Big Sioux is.

  20. mike from iowa 2016-02-24 16:00

    Anybody thrown Stumfcar into a polluted body of water to see if he drowns? Whether he does or not you’d still have to dry his carcass so you could burn it at the stake. Would bother my eco-friendly soul to pollute the air that much,but damnit,sacrifices must be made!

  21. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-02-24 16:38

    You are right on several issues Les, but the one about his father, you are spot on. George was the best governor in SD since I have been an adult. I couldn’t rate any before that.

  22. Stumcfar 2016-02-24 16:40

    Mike is proof that liberal koolaid is damaging to the brain. I love this site as all you left wing loons come here to make yourself feel better and feel validated. You want to go back to the old ways of living off the land even though there are 323,000,000 of us. You don’t want there to be enough power or food for people but you do not want any hint of stopping immigration. If you guys would ever stop and think of all the whacko positions you hold and actually put them into real world context, you would be too embarrassed to come out of your homes. Maybe you are already and that is why you come on this site, to vent with the other 9 crazy liberals in SD.

  23. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-02-24 16:40

    Roger, you hit on one that I thought of. There are hundreds if not thousands who kayak the Sioux right in Sioux Falls.

  24. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-02-24 16:44

    Is that why you use a name like Stumcfar, so that folks won’t know who the loon that is posting your crap, is?

  25. larry kurtz 2016-02-24 16:49

    Everything east of Oacoma is Flint, Michigan anyway. Who cares?

  26. mike from iowa 2016-02-24 16:49

    We’re coming for you,Stumpy and heck is coming with us.

  27. larry kurtz 2016-02-24 16:49

    Stu McFarlane doesn’t even live in South Dakota, you guys.

  28. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-02-24 16:57

    Oh well, last night Senator Rounds, you know the guy who did such a wonderful job as governor, what with EB-5 and failed economic development initiatives, sent and email telling us that he has asked the US Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the EPA’s clean power plan. He will probably want to include cleaning up the Sioux RIver in that appeal.

  29. mike from iowa 2016-02-24 17:01

    That is why you are to never drink water that hasn’t been treated.

    Why you never drink untreated water is because libs had the backbone to force industries to clean up their messes in our waters. Then you morans got into power and deregulated everything and now we are forced to have contamination everywhere. Profit over people’s health,especially all them little fetuses you demand be born so you wingnuts can abuse them from the cradle to the grave.

  30. jerry 2016-02-24 17:51

    Mickelson’s dad was in it for South Dakota, his spawn is in it for the moolah. What a twerp. He should drink the water to show it is good like those bozo’s did when they ate the pink slime.

  31. larry kurtz 2016-02-24 17:56

    amen, jerry.

  32. grudznick 2016-02-24 18:08

    Mr. Stumcfar, I don’t believe we have met but I, for one, rather like your name.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-24 18:22

    Folks, don’t fall for Stu’s troll tactics. Demand that he present evidence. Demand the he explain why polluted water is acceptable and why concern about toxins in water is an affirmation of his belief that “you liberals” are all crazy. And make him talk about specifics, South Dakota specifics.

  34. Jeff Barth 2016-02-24 19:32

    I was present with the Argus reporter when the study was presented to the East Dakota Water District.

    There is more to fear from cattle standing picturesquely in the river than from CAFOs with engineered waste disposal systems. The “brown” river predates the first massive dairy.

    Nitrate studies presented last year show that the hottest spots on the Big Sioux were immediately south of Watertown and Sioux Falls.

    A DNA study on fecal material in a watershed within the City of Sioux Falls showed that the primary source in that case was dogs.

    There is a lot of work going on. East Dakota appropriated another $25,000 to continue the E coli study. We all must use caution before jumping to conclusions.

  35. Don Coyote 2016-02-24 19:51

    @Les: “BTW, isn’t the toxin similar to the one found on cruise ships that kill rather handily?”

    No that’s the norovirus. Shiga is bacterial.

  36. Les 2016-02-24 20:13

    Prob so, Don. I was thinking or not thinking, shigella, possibly lethal without anti b’s which is bacterial.

  37. Don Coyote 2016-02-24 20:25

    @Roger: “i don’t want to spill my kayak, get a mouth full of water and end up in the hospital…”

    I see your problem. If you have a good kayak and a modicum of skill you won’t be flipping your ride. Most of the kayaks I see people using are cheap junk. I’ve canoed the Sioux for years. I won’t eat fish from it nor would I drink from it without treating it. I always paddle with neoprene gloves. If I get river water in my mouth I always rinse it with bottled/safe water. CAFOs aren’t the problem, it’s everyday farmers and their crappy stewardship of their banks. I helped one day with the Iowa DNR’s river cleanup of the Sioux 2 years ago. The amount of junk that farmers pushed into the river was beyond belief. Refrigerators, tires, car frames, cars, furniture … the list was endless. Private dumps along the banks were ubiquitous. Unfenced pastures where cattle came to drink were not uncommon. I didn’t hear of one intestinal disorder of the hundred plus canoeists/kayakers that participated in the seven day run down the river.

    Here’s the Iowa DNR’s take on pollution in the Big Sioux.


  38. mike from iowa 2016-02-24 20:33

    @Jeff Barth- There is more to fear from cattle standing picturesquely in the river than from CAFOs with engineered waste disposal systems……See it all too often that waste disposal systems get overwhelmed during heavy rains and flood,or have breakdowns that no one bothers to notice until the stuff hits the proverbial fan.

  39. Roger Cornelius 2016-02-24 20:38

    Today when Donald Trump said, ” I love poor uneducated voters”, he must have been referring to that Stu creature.

  40. Les 2016-02-24 20:41

    You have some river water in your link, DC.

  41. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-02-24 22:05

    Mr Barth, Iowa DENR would disagree with you and with the study presented to the East Dakota Water District.

    From the Iowa DENR report sited by Don Coyote, “In the Big Sioux River watershed, nonpoint sources include areas used to land-apply manure, and improperly connected or failing septic systems. Rainwater and snowmelt can wash waste fromlivestock (confined and pastured), pets
    and wildlife into the river.

  42. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-02-24 22:30

    Another one, that I forgot about Mr Barth, is that I heard a farmer from up near Veblen, this summer. He tested his well water and found some astronomical amount of fecal matter, I want to say (but i will admit I am just guessing) 27,000 ppm. He is not right next door to the 17,000 cow dairy operation either, which of course means that the effluent can leach a long way when there are not sufficient natural filters to stop it.

  43. Roger 2016-02-25 10:12

    I have the skills and the boats but that is not the point. the point is that our waters are polluted and we are too busy pointing fingers instead of fixing the problems. we know where it comes from and how to filter it out but we are not allowed to talk about it or propose changes because of the big lobbies in the state.

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