Horses & Livestock

Storm Water Pollution

Did you know that storm drains are not connected to sanitary sewer systems or treatment plants? The primary purpose of storm drains is to carry rainwater away from developed areas to prevent flooding. However, this water is not filtered or treated and all the contaminants it contains eventually flow to our streams, lakes, and ocean where we swim and fish.

Once there, polluted runoff can harm wildlife and habitats. Horses and livestock wastes are among the many common storm water pollutants that can degrade water quality. Other examples include paint, oil and automotive fluids, construction debris, pesticides, litter, pool chemicals, and dirty wash water.

How Horses & Livestock Can Pollute Storm water

During rainfall, uncovered manure and sediment can be washed from barns, pastures, stables and even our streets. These wastes end up flowing directly into streams, lakes, and the ocean where they can harm human health and the environment.

Storm water runoff has been found to contain high concentrations of pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses.

When they wash into our recreational waters they can make people sick with sore throats, intestinal problems, rashes, nausea, and eye and ear infections.

Manure also contains nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, that fertilize aquatic algae. When these nutrients are too abundant they cause algae to grow very rapidly, and as a result, deplete oxygen in the water, which kills fish and plant life.

Sediment is also harmful to our waters. In addition to causing flooding, sediment washed from pastures and livestock facilities can also harm aquatic life by clogging the gills of fish, blocking light transmission, lowering water temperatures, and preventing the production of oxygen by plants.

Manure & Pet Maintenance

Poway Municipal Code Section 17.32.010.F has specific requirements for the management of manure and pet maintenance:

  • Manure deposited by horses and large animals within an enclosure, street or on uncovered areas, from which runoff could enter receiving waters or the storm water conveyance systems, must be cleaned up at least once weekly and either be composted, or be stored prior to disposal in a manner that prevents contact with runoff to receiving waters or the storm water conveyance system.
  • Areas used for composting such manure must be located, configured or managed to prevent runoff to receiving waters or the storm water conveyance system.
  • Pet waste shall not be disposed to the storm water conveyance system or receiving waters.

Best Management Practices

  • Put barns, corrals, and fences in areas that drain away from creeks or streams or other storm drain conveyance systems.
  • Keep livestock away from wet fields when possible. During rain events, cover manure stockpiles with a tarp or plastic sheet to reduce pollutant runoff.
  • Cover dirt areas with loose hay or plant fast-growing grasses to shield and bind the soil to prevent erosion.
  • Collect soiled bedding and manure from stalls and paddocks daily, and store them in sturdy, insect-resistant, and seepage free units.
  • When grooming animals, use less toxic alternatives.
  • If you must use pesticides, always read the label and use the products as directed.
  • Encourage riders to clean up after horses when outside an equestrian facility.

A Word About "Biodegradable" Soaps

"Biodegradable" is a popular marketing term that can be misleading. Just because a product is labeled as biodegradable doesn't mean that it is non-toxic. Some products are more toxic than others, but none are harmless to aquatic life. Soapy water entering the storm drain system can have a negative impact on fish and other wildlife within hours.