Plan of Action for Water Quality Management

An effective water management plan will help minimize the agricultural impact of horse farms on local streams, lakes, groundwater, and other water sources. It should employ Best Management Practices (BMPs) wherever possible to prevent clean runoff from becoming contaminated, minimize the amount of contamination caused by agricultural operations, and capture and treat contaminated runoff before it can reach nearby water bodies. As with any plan, careful monitoring and performance evaluation over time will help determine its effectiveness, as well as indicate areas where improvement may be needed.

A Proper Water Management Plan is essential for eliminating standing water and the health risks it present.

Elements of a good water quality management plan would include:

  1. Runoff controls to direct runoff away from potential contamination sources such as manure storage areas.
  2. Piping of relatively clean roof runoff through an infiltration trench in order to provide as much groundwater recharge as possible. Flows in excess of infiltration capacity would be routed to a bioretention basin.
  3. Routing of drainage through biofiltration swales to encourage infiltration and provide initial settling of suspended solids.
  4. Fences to restrict horses from open water swale areas and prevent direct contamination.
  5. Drainage swales protected by riparian vegetative buffers that act as filter strips to provide initial settling and filtration.
  1. Bioretention basins to provide filtration and treatment before discharge to drainage swales and the environment.
  2. Bioswales are landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water. A swale similar to this one was installed at the Ryders Lane facility.elements-water-quality-management

A bioswale is a shallow channel of graded soil with vegetation.  The swales are graded at a shallow slope and often have meandering paths.  This is meant to lengthen the distance that stormwater runoff travels before it hits a local waterway, increasing the chance it will infiltrate before discharging into the waterway.

The Demonstration Horse Farm bioswale was designed and constructed to collect the stormwater runoff from the surrounding paddocks and treat it before the water is discharged to the local waterway.

The bioswale is 33 feet wide and 850 feet long.  The swale begins upstream of the roadway and travels underneath the road to the end of the farm to a stormwater sewer inlet.  A sandy soil mix with a 10 to 15% organic content was used in the bottom of the bioswale, which was covered with erosion control matting.  Native grasses (soft rush and switchgrass) were planted along the berm and bottom of the swale.  The bioswale was designed to handle the stormwater runoff from the paddock that would result from a New Jersey Water Quality Design Storm (1.25 inches of rain over two hours).





For the purposes of this farm, the flow from the central biofiltration swale will be split and routed into two calibrated and instrumented swales that can be modified to compare the performance of various treatment options (soil media, plants, etc.) on the same runoff. This scientific study will allow easy-to-implement treatment options to be developed and distributed to New Jersey’s farm managers through the project’s outreach component.

Stormwater Runoff Paddock Drainage System

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program, in cooperation with the Equine Science Center, designed and installed a new roof drainage system for the paddock area on the southeast corner of the barn at the Ryders Lane Facility.

The initial trench along south side of the paddock area.

The work complete at the site consisted of:

  1. 1.
    An underground drainage system which was constructed to eliminate contact between clean roof drainage and water that drains from the paddock area.
  2. 2.
    A drainage system which was constructed to allow rain water to infiltrate during small storms and drain to a downstream bioretention basin during larger storms.

The piping system consists of perforated 4” PVC pipes laid in a 1’ bed of clean ¾” stone. This project has been very successful in reducing the amount of mud and transport of fecal material out of the paddock area. It represents a relatively simple, inexpensive and effective strategy for reducing contaminated runoff and maintaining the structural quality of a paddock area.

drainage trench with horizontal pvc pipes in a bed of 3/4" stone, including roof leader connections

Dry Lot Paddock Area post-construction

Custom Designed Rain Garden

Rain gardens are gardens specifically designed to soak up rain water mainly from roofs, but also from driveways and lawns. In cooperation with the Equine Science Center, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program designed and installed a rain garden for the paddock area on the southeast corner of the barn at the Ryders Lane Facility. The rain garden will help remove nutrients that wash through the manure in horse paddocks due to storms.

During Dry Spell, Rain Gardens Should be watered manually to maintain plant growth.

The Rain Garden will filter the nutrients in water runoff coming through the adjacent horse paddock.

Our rain garden contains the following plants:

  • Sweet Pepper Bush
  • Switchgrass
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Arrow-wood Vibernum
  • New York Aster
  • Inkberry Holly
  • Winterberry Holly

information on NJDEP wetlands regulations

The following are some resources which give information on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) regulations that affect agricultural operations.