Dakota Farmer

The spring thaw could create flooding problems with containment ponds and manure stacking areas.

April 2, 2020

2 Min Read
Containment pond with field in the distance
FLOODING RISK: Inspecting dirty-water containment ponds like this one daily is going to be important as the spring thaw continues. NDSU

The North Dakota State University Extension Service is issuing a warning about potential containment pond flooding.

The spring thaw could cause problems for containment ponds and manure stacking areas, according to May Keena, NDSU Extension livestock environmental management specialist based at the Carrington Research Extension Center in Foster County, N.D.

Inspecting the dirty-water containment ponds daily is going to be important.

“Producers must maintain 2 feet of freeboard to accommodate a 24-hour, 25-year storm event in their ponds,” Keena says. “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, calling the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Quality, and reporting these issues before they happen is the best plan of action,” according to Rachel Strommen, environmental scientist at NDDEQ.

Strommen says producers who must pump their ponds back to 2 feet of freeboard should apply the containment water to unfrozen cropland or pastureland.

“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,” Keena says.

If a containment pond has an unpermitted release, producers must call NDDEQ at 701-328-5210 to report the incident. Producers will be required to keep records of 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.

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

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 NDDEQ’s Division of Water Quality online or at 701-328-5210.

You can also check out these NDSU publications:

* “Containment Pond Management

* “Manure Spills: What You Need to Know and Environmental Consequences

* “Liquid Level or Depth Marker for Earthen Runoff Ponds

Source: NDSU, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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