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Preliminary evaluation of VTA effectiveness to protect runoff water quality on small pork production facilities in Texas

K. Wagner, D. Harmel, K. Higgs

Federal law requires all animal feeding operations to manage manures and wastewater by-products in a manner that is protective of waters of the U.S. As a result, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) encourages animal feeding operations to voluntarily participate in the agency’s Water Quality Management Plan Program. Historically, limited participation of the pork industry has occurred largely due to logistical and operational issues on smaller operations. Smaller pork facilities generally operate on smaller tracts of land that do not support traditional animal waste management systems such as waste storage ponds, treatment lagoons, and significant expanses of land application acreage.

This project was initiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service and Texas Water Resources Institute, with funding from the TSSWCB, to evaluate an alternative wastewater treatment system that includes (1) manure scraping and offsite hauling and (2) a vegetated treatment area (VTA) to treat runoff and wash water prior to leaving the VTA. It is anticipated that this evaluation will provide the scientific basis for considering this system for inclusion as an approved practice in the WQMP Program.


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