Horse people have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to being good stewards of the land. But sometimes, in the rush of our busy lives, we let this go to the wayside. Horse farms generally are not considered livestock operations, and in the past many of these farms have been able to avoid state and federal environmental regulations. But now, there is increasing scrutiny of horse farm manure management practices. Now is the time to protect your farm against potential compliance violations.

The reason for the increasing scrutiny is clear: More than 48% of the rivers and streams designated as impaired by the United States Environmental Protection Agency are impaired because of agricultural nonpoint source pollution–the type of pollution that cannot be attributed to single drainage from a pipe or discharge point. The federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires each state to create and enforce a set of water quality standards. Under Section 319 of the CWA, states must assess and manage nonpoint source pollution. This pollution can occur on agricultural operations when precipitation runs off pastures, cropland, manure piles, and other surfaces and picks up nutrients, sediments, and chemicals. Once these pollutants reach surface and ground water sources they can harm aquatic and land-based ecosystems and can cause human and animal illness, or even death.

Dealing with the up to 50 pounds of manure, 10 pounds of urine, and 20 pounds of soiled bedding each horse produces daily (depending on bedding type and number of times cleaned per day) can be the least rewarding part of the job, but it must be done. Here are some tips to help you deal with your muck piles in an environmentally friendly and compliant way: