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  • Writer's pictureKevin Shamburg

Livestock Waste Management System Planning, Design, and Construction Administration

In recent years, environmental regulations imposed on livestock producers have increased in number and complexity. This appears to be a trend that will not change in the foreseeable future. In order to assist livestock producers with this challenge, the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) formed KLA Environmental Services, Inc. in 2001. KLA Environmental Services provides fee‑based services which allow KLA members to receive hands‑on assistance to comply with the increasing number of complex environmental regulations. KLA members have first priority and a preferred rate.

The typical livestock waste management system project requires knowledge and experience in all aspects of animal manure and wastewater volume estimations, rainfall runoff calculations, surveying, engineering design and quality assurance activities associated with the design and construction of waste storage ponds, earth embankments, reinforced concrete structures, clay and flexible liners, wastewater conveyance pipelines, diversions, and settling basins. Additionally, the typical project could require knowledge and experience in all aspects of surveys and design activities associated with the design and construction of foundations, earthwork, water control gates, rock riprap placement, timber structures, steel structures and structural fabrication, and channel bank stabilization measures.

Typical Depth Gauge in Livestock Waste Storage Pond

Livestock waste management system projects often begin with a topographic survey of the areas to be occupied by feeding facilities, feed storage, runoff control structures, and manure storage. The topographic survey becomes the base map for all design work and is used to explore layout alternatives and estimates of earthwork quantities. The survey data is also used to determine precise drainage areas for collection channels, sediment basins and waste storage ponds. At KLA Environmental Services, we use Global Positioning System (GPS) data collection equipment and computer-based topographic map production systems. We can survey large areas quickly and accurately when there are few obstructions.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) requires that we document the subsurface conditions at least 10 feet below the lowest point of the proposed facility. This is typically measured from the bottom elevation of the deepest waste storage pond. In addition, technical standards require that at least 1 test hole be completed for each 1 acre of top area on a planned waste storage pond. We investigate the subsurface conditions of the site by observing the excavation of strategically-located test holes. We typically use an excavator or a small drill rig to excavate test holes. An excavator should be capable of excavating to a depth of 20 feet. When a drill rig is required, it should be capable of excavating to a depth of at least 40 feet and have the capacity to extract undisturbed samples.

Industry standards limit the allowable seepage rate from livestock waste storage ponds to 1/4-inch per day (1/10-inch per day in sensitive groundwater areas). To assure that this requirement is met, our field specialists collect representative soil samples for laboratory analysis and soil liner design. We select the best available soil liner material identified during the observation of the test hole excavation and collect it for laboratory analysis. We send the collected samples to our soil mechanics laboratory partners for testing. Based on the results of the laboratory analyses, our designer can specify the soil liner thickness and compaction requirements to provide a soil liner that meets the required seepage limits. If the soil material available at the site cannot adequately limit seepage, we can prescribe soil amendments to reduce seepage rates.

The livestock waste management system design phase often includes the following activities:

  1. Design the drainage system layout based on the existing topography and your existing pen configuration and sizes

  2. Evaluate the drainage area for each collection channel, sediment basin and waste storage pond

  3. Size waste storage ponds based on operation requirements and the measured drainage areas

  4. Design waste storage pond soil liners

  5. Design waste collection, delivery and transfer structures and facilities

  6. Estimate quantities of construction materials

  7. Predict probable construction costs

  8. Prepare Construction Drawings

  9. Write Construction Specifications

KLA Environmental Services completes the necessary compliance documents including the System Operation Plan, an Operation and Maintenance Plan, the required Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, and a Construction Observation Plan.

We prepare the necessary permit applications. Typical permitting needs for livestock waste management systems include Livestock Waste Management Permits, Stream Obstruction Permits, Water Appropriations, and Chemigation Permits. The permit applications require documentation showing names and addresses of all landowners and residents of habitable structures within the applicable separation distance. This information is commonly collected from the local county appraiser data.

We serve as the owner’s representative for administering construction contracts for projects. Construction administration is an integral part of the project. After spending months preparing designs, working through levels of increasingly detailed development, and documenting exactly how a system is to be constructed, it is important to assure that the contractor builds the project consistent with the agency approved construction documents.

KLA Environmental Services routinely assists livestock producers complete the following tasks related to construction of planned waste management systems:

  1. Construction Contract Documents

  2. Contractor Invitations to Bid

  3. Site Showing

  4. Bid Opening

  5. Contract Award

  6. Construction Contract Administration

During construction, the bulk of the work shifts from the engineer’s shoulders to the contractor. The engineer’s role becomes that of an observer and record keeper more than a designer or draftsman. A schedule of regular site visits can be established for us to become familiar with the progress of the project. For many jobs, there may be a weekly walk-through of the progress with additional visits scheduled around particularly important phases of construction. KLA Environmental Services is available to quickly resolve unexpected issues and unforeseen conditions during construction, so progress is not delayed.

Engineering technical services during the construction phase of a project can provide greater assurance that the constructed structures will be consistent with the design. KLA Environmental Services is available to provide the following services through the construction phase of each project:

  1. Construction Staking Surveys

  2. Construction Observation

  3. Construction Checkout Surveys

  4. As-Built Drawings

  5. As-Built Summary Reports

  6. Construction Certifications

As a service to our clients we attempt to anticipate the costs associated with our services based on our experience with similar projects, an analysis of your site, your plans and our hourly rates.

Our primary goal is to help keep our clients in compliance and to take the burden and confusion of environmental engineering requirements away so they can focus on running their businesses. Consider us an extension of your own team! We understand the regulations and strive for them to be interpreted and enforced fairly and consistently to protect our natural resources, with a common-sense attitude and a knowledge base of what it takes to plan, design, and implement systems that manage livestock waste. We have a team of consultants and engineers with a great deal of experience, not to mention our network of connections with environmental agencies, KLA staff, and KLA members. If we personally can’t answer your question, odds are we know someone who can. If you would like to learn more about livestock waste management system planning and design, please give us a call.

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