Siting Requirements for Permanent Nutrient Storage Facilities


Factsheet - ISSN 1198-712X   -   Copyright Queen's Printer for Ontario
Agdex#: 720/538
Publication Date: 09/2013
Order#: 12-065
Last Reviewed: 09/2015
History: Replaces OMAF Factsheet Siting Regulations for Manure Storage Facilities, Order No. 09-061
Written by: Benoit Lebeau - Engineer, Non-Agricultural Source Materials/OMAF; Daniel Ward - Engineer,Poultry & Other Livestock Housing & Equipment/OMAF; Richard Brunke- Engineer, Nutrient Management/OMAF

Table of Contents

  1. Setback Distances for Permanent Nutrient Storage Facilities
  2. Minimum Distance to Wells
  3. Minimum Distance to Field Drains
  4. Minimum Distance from Surface Water
  5. Flood Plain Restrictions
  6. Site Requirements for Permanent Nutrient Storage Facilities
  7. Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) and Other Considerations
  8. Conclusion
  9. Resources

Introduction

A permanent nutrient storage facility is a structure that stores agricultural source materials (ASM) and non-agricultural source materials (NASM), referred to as prescribed material. Figure 1 shows one type of structure for containing liquid manure.

Examples of ASM include manure, milkhouse washwater and runoff. Examples of NASM include various food processing plant by-products and biosolids. ASM and NASM are good sources of crop nutrients when properly managed and responsibly applied. Nutrients can become a contaminant if they come into contact with surface or groundwater, or if they cause an adverse effect. Components of ASM and NASM that can cause problems include:

  • coliform bacteria and nitrate nitrogen, which can contaminate water supplies if allowed to run uncontrolled from storages
  • phosphorus, which promotes algae growth if allowed into a watercourse, in turn using up oxygen in the stream, killing fish

The purpose of Ontario Regulation 267/03 under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002, is to reduce the potential for this type of pollution. O. Reg. 267/03 regulates the location and construction of permanent nutrient storage facilities, including earthen nutrient storage facilities. This Factsheet examines location considerations involving surface water, wells and neighbouring homes. The Resources section at the end of this Factsheet lists reference material that addresses construction standards for solid and liquid nutrient storage facilities. See www.ontario.ca/omaf for additional information.

A photo of an in-ground, concrete, circular manure storage tank. The tank is surrounded by a wire fence and situated next to a corn field.

Figure 1. A fenced, reinforced concrete permanent nutrient storage facility built to contain manure and other prescribed material from a livestock operation.

Setback Distances for Permanent Nutrient Storage Facilities

The Regulation applies primarily to operations required to have a nutrient management strategy (NMS), a nutrient management plan (NMP) or a NASM plan. It details requirements for minimum setback distances to various features when constructing or expanding a permanent nutrient storage facility.

A properly located and constructed permanent nutrient storage facility will keep nutrients from entering surface and/or groundwater.

Minimum Distance to Wells

Contamination of water wells is a serious threat on any farm that stores nutrients. The most practical steps to reduce this threat include:

  • maintaining well infrastructure in good condition (cap, casing, etc.)
  • ensuring proper setbacks between wells and possible contamination sources (see below for required storage separation distances)

Test your well water for bacterial contamination and nitrate several times per year to assess its quality.

Minimum Distance From Wells

Drilled well - O. Reg. 267/03, s. 63 (1) a

All permanent nutrient storage facilities must be a minimum of 15 m from a drilled well that has a depth of at least 15 m and a watertight casing to a depth of at least 6 m below ground level.

Municipal well - O. Reg. 267/03, s. 63 (1) b

All permanent nutrient storage facilities must be a minimum of 100 m from a municipal well.

All other wells - O. Reg. 267/03, s. 63 (1) c and d

All permanent nutrient storage facilities designed to store ASM must be a minimum of 30 m from any other well.

All permanent nutrient storage facilities designed to store NASM must be a minimum of 90 m from any other well.

Minimum Distance to Field Drains

Field drainage tiles near a permanent nutrient storage structure are a potential pathway for leaks or spills of nutrients to be transported to surface water. Subsurface tiles always outlet into ditches and/or drains that eventually empty into surface water.

When building or expanding a permanent nutrient storage facility:

  • Locate it a minimum of 15 m from all field drainage tiles or piped municipal drains. [O. Reg. 267/03, s. 63 (2), (5), (6)]
  • Locate and remove all existing field drains within 15 m of the perimeter of the facility.
  • Redirect the flow of any existing field drainage system or piped municipal drain away from the storage facility.
  • If a drainage system is required within 15 m of a permanent nutrient storage facility, discharge any water collected by these drains to a treatment system. If a foundation drain is installed, ensure it drains into an observation and shut-off station before connecting to a drain system. Alternatively, construct the drainage system with non-perforated pipe with all subsurface joints in the piping properly sealed.

Figure 2 shows an observation and shut-off station and its shut-off valve, which allows an operator to inspect for contamination, contain liquid and take remedial action if contamination is detected.

A drawing that shows where to place an observation and shut-off station in order to provide access to a perimeter drain. The placement of the observation shut-off allows for identifying contaminated flow, stopping its movement and fixing the situation.

Figure 2. An observation and shut-off station provides access to a perimeter drain if required, allowing an operator to stop any contaminated flow.

Minimum Distance from Surface Water

Locate all new or expanding permanent nutrient storage facilities so they have a flow path length of at least 50 m to the top of the bank of the nearest surface water. [O. Reg. 267/03, s. 63 (3)]

In the Regulation, "surface water" is defined as:

  • a natural or artificial channel that carries water continuously throughout the year, or intermittently, and does not have established vegetation within the bed of the channel except vegetation dominated by plant communities that require or prefer continuous presence of water or continuously saturated soil for their survival
  • a lake, reservoir, pond or sinkhole
  • a wetland, such as a swamp, marsh, bog or fen, but not land that is being used for agricultural purposes that no longer exhibits wetland characteristics, if the wetland:
  • is seasonally or permanently covered by shallow water or has the water close to the surface of the ground, and
  • has hydric soils and vegetation dominated by hydrophytic or water-tolerant plants

The following are not considered surface water for the purposes of the Regulation:

  • grassed waterways
  • temporary channels for surface drainage, such as furrows or shallow channels that can be tilled and driven through
  • rock chutes and spillways
  • roadside ditches that do not contain a continuous or intermittent stream
  • temporarily ponded areas that are normally farmed
  • dugout ponds
  • artificial bodies of water intended for the storage, treatment or recirculation of runoff from farm-animal yards and manure storages

In the Regulation, "top of bank to a surface water" means:

  • the edge of the channel or bank – if there is a sharp change from the steep slope of the channel or bank to the shallower slope of the field area, or
  • the normal full extent of the watercourse when it contains the maximum volume of water without flooding – if there is not a sharp change from the steep slope of the channel or bank to the shallower slope of the field area

"Flow path," in relation to a permanent nutrient storage facility, means a surface channel or depression that conducts liquids away from the facility. [O. Reg. 267/03, s. (1)]. Flow path does not necessarily follow a straight line, as illustrated by Figure 3.

A drawing showing a large circular manure storage tank in the north left corner and a surface water or catch basin 50 m south of the storage tank.  From the tank to the surface water is a 50 m flow path. The point of the drawing is that a flow path from the storage tank to the surface water does not always follow a straight line, and it is important to allow sufficient distance for flow control in the event of a spill.

Figure 3. A flow path does not always follow a straight line. The required flow path is used to provide opportunities for flow control in the event of a spill.

Include a flow path of at least 50 m between a permanent nutrient storage facility and surface water or any tile inlets or catch basins, e.g., hickenbottom (Figure 4). These surface drainage structures often represent a direct conduit to surface water.

Picture of a catch basin (also called a higgenbottom) in a field next to a corn crop.  The catchbasin sticks out about 1 m out of the ground.

Figure 4. A catch basin used to drain surface water.

When siting and designing a permanent storage, consider the risk of a spill due to a fracture or break in an above-ground wall section. Under the Regulation, an engineer can reduce such risk by increasing the strength of the structure and/or by specifying that the landscape features around the storage facility are adequate to ensure secondary containment of all liquid contained in the structure above the surface of the soil. [O. Reg. 267/03, s. 76. (1)]

Flood Plain Restrictions

Locate all permanent nutrient storage facilities above the 1-in-100-year flood line established by the municipality or by the local conservation authority. [O. Reg. 267/03, s. 63 (4)]

Check with the municipality or local conservation authority if the site is close to a river or stream or to verify flood lines.

Site Requirements for Permanent Nutrient Storage Facilities

Under the Regulation, new or expanding permanent liquid nutrient storages that will contain liquid agricultural source material (e.g., liquid manure, runoff or milkhouse washwater) must maintain separation distances to bedrock and groundwater (aquifer). To provide this protection, a professional engineer or geoscientist must carry out a geotechnical investigation.

The same applies to new or expanding permanent solid nutrient storage facilities on a farm unit where the facility does not have a concrete floor and will be used to store agricultural source material, and where the animals on the farm will generate 300 or more nutrient units per year.

Geotechnical investigation requirements for NASM storage are summarized in OMAF Factsheet, Storage of Non-Agricultural Source Materials (NASM) in a Permanent Storage Facility, Order No. 12-069.

For more detailed information on geotechnical investigation, see the Regulation and OMAF Factsheet, Site Characterization Study for the Construction of Permanent Nutrient Storage Facilities, Order No. 08-049.

Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) and Other Considerations

To avoid odour complaints from neighbours and other neighbouring land uses, follow the siting formula called the Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) when building or expanding any of:

  • a livestock facility
  • a permanent nutrient storage facility for livestock manure
  • an anaerobic digester that uses manure as an input

While MDS calculations are not required by the NMA Regulation, many local municipalities require them. It suggests distances to the nearest lot line, road allowance, neighbour's dwelling and residential areas.

The required separation distance varies according to several criteria, including type of livestock, size of farm operation, type of manure system and neighbouring land use. See OMAF Publication 707, Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Formulae Implementation Guidelines, for more information.

Contact your local municipal office for a calculation of the required minimum separation distances for any proposed nutrient storage facility, new livestock building or anaerobic digester.

MDS does not apply to a permanent nutrient storage facility intended to store NASM. However, NASM with the highest odour detection threshold (i.e. Odour Category OC3) cannot be stored in a permanent nutrient storage facility overnight; it must be applied by midnight the day it is received at the farm. NASM with a lower detection threshold (i.e. OC1 and OC2) may be stored in a permanent nutrient storage facility, provided that, if built after January 1, 2011, it is designed by a professional engineer to minimize odour emission. [O. Reg. 267/03, s. 81.4 (6)]

For more information on NASM storage, see the OMAF Factsheet, Storage of Non-Agricultural Source Materials (NASM) in a Permanent Storage Facility, Order No. 12-069.

Source Protection Plans, which are under development by local Source Protection Committees, may have additional requirements for the siting of nutrient storage facilities. When completed and approved, more details about additional requirements will be available from local Conservation Authorities and municipalities.

To finalize the location of any new permanent nutrient storage facility, prepare a scale drawing of the farmstead, allowing for access by large equipment and providing unrestricted traffic flow for hauling material in and/or out of the storage area. Also, always consider future growth – build in a location that will not obstruct or limit barn expansion. Figure 5 shows separation distances to consider when planning a new barn with an under-barn nutrient storage, including MDS.

A property sketch that shows the separation distances from the proposed new nutrient storage to various features such as a creek, the barns, field tiles, house, well, nearest neighbour and the road.

Figure 5. Property sketch showing separation distances for a proposed permanent manure storage.

A well-maintained farmstead and reasonable consideration of the neighbours' ability to enjoy their property has a significant bearing on the community's attitude toward your operation. Prevailing summer breezes can carry odours from the storage area. Consider visually screening permanent nutrient storage facilities. Often a treed windbreak or other visual screening can aesthetically benefit both the farmstead and neighbouring properties.

Contingency Plans

All nutrient management strategies and NASM plans require a contingency plan to address situations that could potentially result in an adverse effect. [Nutrient Management Protocol, Part 12]

Preparing and implementing a contingency plan to reduce the effects of a spill is a responsibility of all farm operators. For more information, see OMAF publication BMP14, Best Management Practices: Nutrient Management Planning and BMP23, Application of Municipal Sewage Biosolids to Cropland.

Ensure that all farm staff and family are aware of the contingency plan and where to find it in case of a spill.

Conclusion

A properly located and constructed permanent nutrient storage facility is a first step for keeping nutrients from entering surface and/or groundwater.

Resources

OMAF Publications

Best Management Practices Books
Book
Factsheets

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca