Manure deep-pits are commonly used to store manure at confined animal feeding operations. However, previous to this study little information had been collected on the impacts of deep-pits on groundwater quality to provide science-based guidance in formulating regulations and waste management strategies that address risks to human health and the environment. Groundwater quality has been monitored since January 1999 at two hog finishing facilities in Illinois that use deep-pit systems for manure storage. Groundwater samples were collected on a monthly basis and analyzed for inorganic and bacteriological constituent concentrations. The two sites are located in areas with geologic environments representing different vulnerabilities for local groundwater contamination. One site is underlain by more than 6 m of clayey silt, and 7-36 m of shale. Concentrations of chloride, ammonium, phosphate, and potassium indicated that local groundwater quality had not been significantly impacted by pit leakage from this facility. Nitrate concentrations were elevated near the pit, often exceeding the 10 mg N/l drinking water standard. Isotopic nitrate signatures suggested that the nitrate was likely derived from soil organic matter and fertilizer applied to adjacent crop fields. At the other site, sandstone is located 4.6-6.1 m below land surface. Chloride concentrations and δ15N and δ18O values of dissolved nitrate indicated that this facility may have limited and localized impacts on groundwater. Other constituents, including ammonia, potassium, phosphate, and sodium were generally at or less than background concentrations. Trace- and heavy-metal concentrations in groundwater samples collected from both facilities were at concentrations less than drinking water standards. The concentration of inorganic constituents in the groundwater would not likely impact human health. Fecal streptococcus bacteria were detected at least once in groundwater from all monitoring wells at both sites. Fecal streptococcus was more common and at greater concentrations than fecal coliform. The microbiological data suggest that filtration of bacteria by soils may not be as effective as commonly assumed. The presence of fecal bacteria in the shallow groundwater may pose a significant threat to human health if the ground water is used for drinking. Both facilities are less than 4 years old and the short-term impacts of these manure storage facilities on groundwater quality have been limited. Continued monitoring of these facilities will determine if they have a long-term impact on groundwater resources.
- Water quality
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis