Dealing with a Manure Spill Back »

This article was written collaboratively by Erin Cortus and Kent Woodmansey.


Nutrient management professionals urge producers and professional nutrient applicators alike to remember the “Four Cs” if the worst happens and they are faced with a manure spill emergency:

  • Step 1: Control-eliminate the source of the manure spill.
  • Step 2: Contain-limit the area impacted.
  • Step 3: Comply-assess and report damage to the proper authorities.
  • Step 4: Clean up-restore the affected area.

The options for controlling and containing are variable and depend on the cause of the manure spill. Hay or straw bale dams may help slow the manure’s spread. Five-gallon buckets, PVC pipe, plastic sheets and plywood are some examples of items that can be used to help plug tile outlets and cover tile inlets in the event of a spill. If the spill is sizeable, using tillage equipment to stop the manure’s movement toward vulnerable waterways may be necessary. Using sand or other materials to soak up or slow the manure’s spread can also be a containment option.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should be contacted as soon as possible after the spill, but no later than twenty-four (24) hours from the time the producer first became aware of it. The report shall be made to the State of South Dakota at (605) 773-3351. If after normal business hours (8:00 am to 5:00 p.m. Central time on Monday through Friday), the producer shall report the discharge by calling (605) 773-3231. The producer shall also take immediate steps to stop the discharge and notify anyone downstream that may be impacted by the discharge. When notifying the DENR, be prepared to provide information about the location, time, and estimated amount and source of the manure spill. Let the DENR know about any water resources that have been or could be impacted by the spill.


If you have questions, please contact Erin Cortus, Environmental Quality Engineer at 605.688.5144 or Kent Woodmansey with the SD DENR at 605.773.3351.

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