Roof Runoff Management
Roof runoff systems can play a key role in reducing polluted runoff from feedlots. Graphic courtesy Univ of Washington Extension.
Roof runoff management involves installing specially designed high-capacity gutters, downspouts and outlets to collect rain and snowmelt from roofs and direct it away from feedlots. Roof runoff management applies not only to feedlots but also to any farmstead area where clean-water runoff can become polluted due to high concentrations of manure, feed or other nutrient-rich agricultural waste.
Any clean-water runoff from roofs or fields that enters a feedlot/barnyard is considered polluted runoff. Therefore, a key principle of feedlot runoff management is to divert "clean" water away from feedlots and barnyards—and roof runoff management is one of the two main ways to do so. (The other is to install clean water diversions to prevent field runoff from entering lots).
Minnesota's feedlot regulations (Minnesota Rules Chapter 7020) require storage or treatment of polluted runoff from feedlots. Since very large amounts of water drain off the roofs of feedlot buildings during heavy rains, simply diverting roof runoff away from feedlots can significantly reduce the amount of polluted runoff that must be stored or treated.
Gutters and downspouts are relatively low-cost roof runoff controls, whereas roof extensions (another option) are generally more expensive. Well designed outlet systems to properly discharge the clean-water runoff are essential. For smaller or fewer downspouts, splash pans at the bottom of downspouts may do the job. For larger downspouts, it is important to prevent soil erosion at discharge sites; one method is to route the discharge into an underground or overland pipe to a stable channel, or across a surface channel to a grass waterway or a rock-lined channel.
Guidance from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Minnesota feedlot regulations
See feedlot runoff control system resources also.
See contacts for specific programs that fund this practice in the side-by-side payment comparison or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District