The Legislature gave its final approval this afternoon to a bill that will outlaw almost all new hog lagoons in North Carolina. Only Governor Mike Easley's signature is left to turn the measure into law.
North Carolina banned construction of new lagoons a decade ago after a series of spills and other problems with contamination.
State officials have been trying ever since to come up with safer waste disposal systems. They did that, but the systems are still too expensive for most farmers.
So the bill does a couple of things: It says swine farms that are ready to replace their lagoons must meet higher environmental standards, but it includes a cost-sharing program for the first farms that make the change. The hope is that, once the systems are up and running on some farms, the cost will come down.
Existing lagoons can be used until the end of their normal lifespan. The only time a new lagoon can be constructed is to replace one that's in imminent danger of failing.