"As he paddled Virginia’s Shenandoah River on a hot day last July, Mark Frondorf came upon a father and two children. “They were just tubing down the river, just two little munchkins, happy as can be,” he said. It was a idyllic sight — except for the herd of cows Frondorf noticed wading on the water’s edge nearby.
Frondorf looked at the cows, then back at the dad, then again at the cows. Finally, he pulled his canoe alongside the adult. “I was talking with the dad, trying to be as polite as possible,” he recalled. But the Shenandoah riverkeeper knew the cows were defecating — not just that day but many days, raising the levels of E.coli and other bacteria in an area. “Give a bath and scrub them down with soap and everything,” he counseled the father, who gave him an odd look. Frondorf nodded at the animals. “Then he looked at the cows and said, ‘Yeah, okay.’”
With summer approaching and boaters, swimmers and others returning for recreation, a report released Wednesday by the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit group, affirms Frondorf’s continuing concerns. Farm livestock operations line the forked river with 176 million animals, and an unhealthy amount of the waste they produce finds its way into the water."