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Don't Let Containment Ponds Overflow


The spring thaw and potential flooding could cause problems for dirty-water containment ponds and manure stacking areas.

Inspecting dirty water containment ponds like this one daily is

The potential for high water tables during spring thaw can cause issues for North Dakota livestock owners who have dirty-water containment ponds and manure stacking areas.

During spring thaw, dirty-water containment ponds should be inspected daily.

Producers must maintain 2 feet of freeboard to accommodate a 24-hour, 25-year storm event in their ponds. If a pond is level with or measuring in the freeboard area, producers must pump the pond.

If your manure management dirty-water containment pond looks like it is going to overtop, is showing signs of major bank erosion or is being encroached upon by floodwaters, contact the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Quality to report these issues before they happen.

If you must pump your ponds back to 2 feet of freeboard, apply the containment water to cropland or pastureland as soon as the ground thaws.

While the nutrient content of the containment water is minimal, it is important to have it sampled and record the number of gallons applied so your nutrient management plan can be updated to include the pumping.

If a containment pond has an unpermitted release, producers must call the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) at 701-328-5210 to report the incident. Producers will be required to keep records of all weather events that caused the release, the date of the release, the time of the release, the location of the release, the volume of manure or runoff released, and the actions taken to clean up and minimize the release.

Another thing to monitor is manure stacking areas. If the area where producers are stockpiling manure, whether that’s the edge of the field or a designated stacking area, may be prone to overland flooding because of this year’s weather events, it should be inspected.

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are highly susceptible to dissolving in water or moving with the soil, causing pollution in runoff waters. If a manure stacking area becomes inundated with water and runoff, producers likely will need to build a berm around the area to prevent nutrient-dense runoff issues.

For more information about containment ponds, contact your local NDSU Extension agent or the NDDEQ Division of Water Quality at 701-328-5210.

For more information, check out these NDSU publications: