Proposed Georgia legislation calling on poultry facilities near impaired streams to capture rain in heavy storms could have strong implications for the state's poultry industry, says the Georgia Poultry Federation. 

Under the new proposal, facilities with a history of pollution must take serious action to clean up water discharged into streams. Those that don't meet water quality goals in three years will be under stricter scrutiny, and repeat offenders will have to meet certain levels or face penalties.

In particular, poultry companies are concerned about the standard for fecal coliform. One quarter of Georgia's poultry plants will be affected by the new requirements for sites near streams deemed impaired because of high levels of the bacteria, according to Mike Giles, head of the Georgia Poultry Federation. Flat Creek, for example, which flows through a heavy industrial area, is so contaminated with the bacteria that it has been listed as impaired. Among the companies with processing facilities along Flat Creek is Pilgrim's Corp.

But poultry companies say they aren't the only ones responsible for high levels of the bacteria. "Fecal coliform is a challenging pollutant to measure and also to control through a permit process," said Giles. "It is everywhere in the environment."