Managing Runoff Holding Ponds During Wet Weather

Managing Runoff Holding Ponds During Wet Weather

Into each life some rain must fall. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow American poet

This famous quote by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was penned over 100 years ago…and I’m sure Mr. Longfellow was not thinking about manure storages when he wrote it! But springtime in Nebraska is the perfect time to remember this simple phrase, particularly if you are responsible for maintaining an open manure storage structure.

wet weather graphicWhen designed properly, runoff holding ponds, lagoons, and other earthen manure storage structures are sized to contain manure, process wastewater, and storm water that drain into or fall on them throughout their designed storage period. Excess precipitation, particularly chronic wet weather, can lead to concerns about storages overflowing even when they have been managed correctly. A guidance document describing recommended practices for emergency management of runoff holding ponds during wet weather, co-authored with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, is available.

A couple of key messages to remember:

NDEQ Offices

Lincoln Agriculture Section: (402) 471-4239
Grand Island Field Office: (308) 991-1262
Holdrege Field Office: (308) 991-1780
Norfolk Field Office: (402) 679-2497 or (402) 750-4563
North Platte Field Office: (308) 530-0874
Scottsbluff Field Office: (308) 765-9293

  1. Do not let your manure storage overflow! It is preferable to apply effluent to saturated soil than to allow a storage berm to be overtopped.
  2. If a discharge occurs, call your NDEQ Field Office or the State Office within 24 hours. Better yet, your NDEQ Field Inspector can help you determine the best approach to managing wet weather conditions on your farm before a discharge occurs, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help with preventing a discharge!

Additional guidance and NDEQ contact information are available in the guidance document. Your Nebraska Animal Manure Management Team is also available to provide guidance.

This article was reviewed by Leslie Johnson, Blythe McAfee (NDEQ), and Ben Miller (NDEQ)

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