08/06/06 — Program saves hog farmers on water bills

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Program saves hog farmers on water bills

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on August 6, 2006 2:03 AM

A program in use by about two dozen Wayne County hog farmers is helping reduce the amount of water necessary to run their operations.

The program not only is good for the environment, it saves the farmer money, said Patty Gabriel, conservationist with the Wayne County office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers who participate install a meter to reduce the amount of water wasted by the animals. A new type of container prevents the animals from spilling as much.

"I think it has been a great success. It's great in reducing the amount of fresh water usage in swine operations, which benefits everybody," she said. "In eastern North Carolina ground water depletion is getting to be a serious issue. Any way we can cut back the amount of ground water used is a good thing."

Julian Nelms of Fremont started participating in the program about six months ago. Nelms said it has helped him keep water costs down.

"I wasn't sure at first, but the program was easy to implement. I like having the water meters because I know how much fresh water I'm using. Also, the less fresh water that is wasted, means the less water to pump out of my waste-treatment lagoon."

Shelton Keene of Mount Olive said adding the meters helps him locate leaks in his water lines. He said the design of the new water containers stops the hogs from wasting as much.

"The hogs are calmer since I converted to the cup waterers. When I had the swing waterers, the hogs would fight to see which one would get to play with the waterers. A lot of fresh water was wasted. Now they drink the water they want without wasting water," Keene said.

Gabriel said she hopes the program will expand. Farmers who qualify receive government money to install the equipment and set up a water conservation plan. If they meet water reduction goals, they receive an incentive payment.

Both independent farmers and contract farmers are eligible for the program. Interested farmers should contact Gabriel at 734-5281 or visit the conservation office in the Wayne Center at 208 W. Chestnut St.

Julie Hatchett of the District Conservation Office contributed to this report.