August 10, 2012
Scott Schauble, who owns a farm bordering the Lamoine River, came home one day to find water lines running across his driveway. These lines were being used to draw water from the river to replenish the water reserves of a neighboring hog factory farm.
Schauble had recently been approached by his neighbor who offered him money, hunting rights and even a pig for slaughter if he would allow the factory farm to draw water through his property. Schauble refused.
Professional Swine Management, who runs the hog facility, maintains that the water lines across Schauble’s driveway were not on his property, but on the right of way, and that the township’s roads commissioner had given permission to run the temporary lines.
The lines have since been removed, and according to its management, the factory farm, or CAFO as they are also called (Confined Animal Feeding Operation), will move forward using other contingencies to replenish its water reserves, but didn’t say how they planned to do so.
While other states have amended their water use law via statute, the state of Illinois continues to rely on riparian law principles. Robert Hirschfeld, Water Policy Specialist with Prairie Rivers Network, explains that a riparian land owner (someone who owns property along a river) does not own the water, but has the right to use that water on their land. In this case, it seems that the facility would not have been legally able to draw water from the river, even with permission from a riparian land owner, who can use the water, but not sell or transport it off their property.