We often hear a lot about managing storm water in urban settings, but we may not think about how it impacts farms. During a heavy rain event, clean rainwater can mix with mud, manure and other contaminants and become wastewater.
To manage storm water on your farm you have to divert rainwater from production areas to keep it clean and to reduce the volume of wastewater. To stay in compliance with the Clean Water Act, agricultural operations must manage wastewater in a way that creates no discharge to surface water resources.
Here are some appropriate practices you can use to manage storm water:
1.) Use gutters on buildings or use underground outlets to redirect rainwater, 2.) Use vegetative filter strips,
3.) Use detention or retention structures for slow release of rainwater after a storm,
4.) Use hardened structures like rock-lined ditches and grade stabilization structures, and
5.) Check to make sure dams that divert storm water away from animal production and waste storage facilities can also prevent soil erosion associated with high storm water runoff.
By diverting clean water away from production areas, you can reduce the amount of wastewater you have to contain or manage.
Managing storm water conserves wastewater storage space, creates a drier environment for animals and reduces odors—all of which will help improve the efficiency of your livestock operation and save you money.
You can incorporate managing storm water into your Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan by using Livestock Best Management Practice Number 18.
If you have already begun using storm water management, inspect your work regularly to make sure your structures are properly operating.
UK’s publication AEN-103 discusses Storm Water BMP’s for confined livestock facilities. For more information about managing storm water on the farm, contact the LaRue County Conservation District Office or the County Extension Service.