Siting Requirements
Earthen Ponds
Earthen Construction
Concrete Construction
Piping Construction


Earthen ponds may be constructed with onsite soils which meet the SNTC 716 specification previously mentioned or may be lined with 1' of acceptable soil meeting SNTC 716 (2' separation from ground water, rock or gravel is still required). If only a layer of acceptable soil was found during the soils testing, that material can be set aside for later use as a liner or the liner material may be imported from off-site. Another option is to mix bentonite or other high clay material with the onsite soil to create a soil with the acceptable clay content. The following storage pond requirements are the minimum values allowed by the ISDA (Soil type or site conditions may also warrant using more conservative requirements):

Lagoon Construction Diagram
Figure 2. Lagoon Construction Diagram


Synthetic liners are very fragile and require stringent quality control during the installation process. These liners cannot withstand any equipment traffic so cleaning and maintenance methods must be developed which will not damage the liner. The material must also be protected from livestock and burrowing rodents with proper management practices. An excellent use for a synthetic liner is on the embankments of an earthen pond with a concrete floor and "bucking walls" in a sandy soil area (see Figure 3). The ISDA has the following minimum requirements for ponds constructed with synthetic liners:

Typical Synthetic Liner Installation Detail
Figure 3: Typical Synthetic Liner Installation Detail


Concrete or asphalt ponds are arguably the best type of containment facilities when properly constructed. These facilities can be installed in high ground water areas and in soils not meeting the clay content requirement. There are many different types of concrete/asphalt storage ponds, including; concrete, gunite (concrete swimming pool lining material), or asphalt lined earthen ponds, above ground concrete tanks, below ground concrete vaults and partially buried concrete ponds (vertical walls). Concrete is also an excellent material to use in conjunction with other materials as shown in Figure 4. The following ISDA requirements for concrete/asphalt storage structures are minimums. Site conditions may warrant more stringent construction requirements.

Typical Concrete Slab/Wall Joint Showing Waterstop
Figure 4. Typical Concrete Slab/Wall Joint Showing Waterstop


All pre-manufactured waste containment facilities should be installed and constructed in strict accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. The foundations for above ground installations should be designed or reviewed by an engineer prior to construction. Below ground installations should also be designed or reviewed by an engineer to prevent crushing or "floating" of the containment facility.


Contaminated precipitation runoff must be diverted to the containment ponds using berms or channels. Uncontaminated runoff or "runon" (precipitation runoff that has not been in contact with manure or feed) should be diverted away from corrals, feed areas and the containment facilities. Both of these cases require small berms or channels or a combination of the two to divert runoff. The ISDA recommendations for runoff diversion berms and channels are shown below:

Small Berms - Less than 30" high

Large Berms - Greater than 30" high

Channels or Swales


There are two primary safety issues involved in the use of livestock waste handling facilities. The first is the risk of asphyxiation or breathing toxic H2S (hydrogen sulfide) when working in confined areas, such as manure storage or handling facilities. This risk is greatly increased when the waste is being agitated, such as an operator working on the facility. The second safety issue is the risk of drowning in the containment facility. Even very shallow containment facilities, such as gravity separators pose a risk to children and animals. Dairy and beef lagoons often crust over with manure, but the crust will not support the weight of a person or an animal. Because of these inherent risks with waste handling facilities, the ISDA strongly recommends the following precautions for the safety of humans and animals:

Typical Caution Signs for Waste Facilities
Figure 5. Typical Caution Signs for Waste Facilities

Note: USDA programs such as EQIP may have additional or more stringent requirements than those described on this page. Contact your local NRCS office for additional details.