A study from the University of Delaware reports that federal environmental programs have drastically overestimated the poultry industry’s contributions to water pollution.  James L. Glancey, a professor in the university's Bioresources Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments, said that a multistate study, based on thousands of manure tests, found that actual nitrogen levels in poultry house manure are 55 percent lower than the Environmental Protection Agency's decades-old, lab-based standards.

The News Journal (Wilmington, Del.) reports that the results could lead to a formal proposal for changes to the Chesapeake Bay program’s six-state pollution forecasting model, used to guide a federally backed attempt to restore the bay's health and ecosystems and assign cleanup goals.

"I think this is a precedent-setting kind of thing, but we're not quite sure how it's going to propagate through the United States," Glancey said after giving a briefing on the findings at the state Department of Agriculture on Tuesday. "Everyone's watching it, there's no doubt about it.

In a statement released late Tuesday, the EPA said that the agency has been aware of the studies for more than a year, and that a committee with "diverse participation" had been formed to settle the issue in a timely way.

"While we await submittal of additional data needed, we are hopeful the collective data will show that industry efforts to reduce nutrients in poultry litter is having a positive result," the statement said. "Any decision regarding the use of this information would be made by the Chesapeake Bay Partnership. "

Sources: The News Journal, USA Today