Manure runoff from feedyards and dairies water is typically held in lined holding ponds. This wastewater contains concentrated minerals, organic, and pharaceutical compounds. If these hazardous contaminants leak into groundwater, they can contaminate domestic and municipal water supplies.
Monitoring Well Limitations The current method for monitoring unintended discharge of wastewater is placement of one or more monitoring wells near the holding pond. Water samples from these wells are typically analyzed only 1-2 times per year.
This method has been scientifically proven to be ineffective for rapid detection of holding pond leaks. Reliance solely on monitoring wells does not allow wastewater producers to be proactive in their waste management efforts.
Solar Powered SafeSoil(TM) Monitor At Cattle Feedyard
Location of Feedyards and Dairies
Monitoring wells are expensive to install. Licensed technicians must travel to the site to take water samples, perform chemical analysis, and prepare reports.
The USDA, in collaboration with the Nebraska Dept. Of Environmental Quality, installed a SafeSoil(TM)Monitor at a working cattle feedyard wastewater holding pond. Six monitoring wells were located near the pond.
SafeSoil(TM) measurements were taken weekly along the down-gradient edge of the pond for two years, along with bi-annual monitoring well samples.
A leak in the pond liner was accidently created when the operator pumped water from the pond for crop irrigation. The SafeSoil(TM) monitor detected leakage of wastewater into groundwater within hours after the leak occurred. None of the sampling wells detected the leak. The graphic display of measurements shows the extent of the leak (dark red squares) that penentrated nearly 50 feet below the surface.