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Standards for Measuring Seepage from Anaerobic Lagoons and Manure Storages

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  034130,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.13885) @2003
Authors:   Jay M. Ham, Tom M DeSutter
Keywords:   Animal Waste, Ground Water Quality, Evaporation, Waste Management, Hydraulic Conductivity

Seepage losses from animal waste lagoons and earthen manure storages can affect groundwater quality near animal feeding operations under certain conditions. Research was conducted to determine the optimal method for measuring seepage rates on a whole-lagoon basis using short-term (e.g., 5 day) water balance experiments. Here, water balance techniques refer to methods that quantify seepage by measuring the difference between evaporation and changes in lagoon depth while all other inputs and outputs are precluded. This method can be applied to working facilities and provides an integrated (areally-averaged) measure of liner performance. One of the central objectives was to develop and test protocols that might lead to a standardized approach for seepage measurements. Instrumentation was developed that consisted of a meteorological buoy/raft for measuring evaporation, a high-resolution waste-level recorder, and a data acquisition station. Variations of this instrumentation were used to measure seepage rates from lagoons at swine and cattle feeding operations in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Data also were collected from a poultry processing plant in Missouri. Seepage rates from 26 lagoons averaged 0.98 mm/d. Factors affecting uncertainty in the seepage estimate and methods for approximating liner hydraulic conductivity are discussed. A standardized protocol for measuring and calculating whole-lagoon seepage is proposed. Results indicate a measurement precision of 0.2 mm/d is possible during favorable weather conditions.

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