As feared, groundwater contaminated by manure storage


For Immediate Release... September 21, 2021

Brandon University Scientist and Environmentalists Urge Manitoba
Government to Protect Groundwater Drinking Sources

A recent freedom of information request reveals that 57% of manure storage
facilities that have installed groundwater-monitoring systems show evidence of
groundwater contamination.

"These results confirm the fears of many rural citizens that many of these
structures are contaminating groundwater in a serious way", comments Dr. Bill
Paton of the Brandon University, who has analyzed the data.

The results corroborate an unreleased study of Manitoba's groundwater quality
inaugurated in 1999. The Manitoba Rural Groundwater Quality Initiative, which
included data from approximately 1000 wells sampled randomly across agri-
Manitoba, reveals that 43% of the wells exceeded the Canadian Drinking Water
Quality Guideline of zero total coliform organisms detectable per 100 mL. The
same study indicates that 16% of the private wells sampled exceeded the
guideline of 10 mg/L for nitrate.

Manitoba has embarked on a consultative process to develop a regulation under
the new Water Protection Act to develop water quality management zones for
nutrients. The intent of the regulation is to decrease nutrient loading in Lake

"We agree with the government that priority should be placed on nutrient
reduction and saving Lake Winnipeg, but not at the expense of protecting
citizens drinking water", says Glen Koroluk, environmental researcher. He adds,
" resources are required to both protect groundwater drinking sources and reduce
nutrients entering Lake Winnipeg."

Both Dr. Paton and Mr. Koroluk are calling on the Manitoba Government to include
measures that protect groundwater when they develop water quality management
zones. "And in the interest of public health, we strongly advise that government
notify those families who live in close proximity to manure storage facilities
to have their wells tested. Furthermore, we urge citizens who live adjacent to
feedlots, municipal lagoons and landfill sites to test their groundwater
drinking wells."

Dr. Paton and Mr. Koroluk will be available for comment Thursday, September 22

Dr. Bill Paton, Professor of Botany/Biology, Brandon University 1-204-727-9783
or 1-204-761-4766 cell
Glen Koroluk, Environmental Researcher, Winnipeg 224-0933 or 981-1861 cell


Among many citizens of rural communities on the Prairies, earthen manure
storage structures have attracted widespread concern about their potential for
groundwater contamination. These concerns have been severely downplayed by
industry and government regulators. Other than research sponsored by industry,
independent studies have been limited. An interim report published by Alberta
Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, July 2000, identified that 2 of 5
manure storage lagoons studied had severe to moderate seepage and contaminant
movement in the underlying groundwater. An Iowa State study of 34 permitted
lagoons, found that earthen storage structures associated with concentrated
animal feeding operations posed serious risk to the water resource.

Dr. Paton's observation of information obtained through the Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act are as follows:

" In the data provided by the Manitoba Government, monitoring well analyses are
reported for 565 different manure storage facilities. Monitoring started in 1999
and some facilities have data for 5 years. Some lagoons have multiple monitoring
wells around them, some as high as 7.

I have applied the following criteria as indicators of groundwater pollution:

Electrical conductivities (measure of salts) above 2000 uS/cm - 207 lagoons
indicate readings above this threshold. The highest level reported was

Nitrate levels greater than 10mg/litre - 124 lagoons above this threshold with a
highest level at 519mg/L.

Chloride levels above 200 mg/L - 146 lagoons above this threshold with a highest
level at 8,000 mg/L.

Ammonium levels above 2mg/L - 65 lagoons above this threshold with a highest
level at 4,020 mg/L.

Sodium levels above 200mg/L - 66 lagoons above this threshold with a highest
level at 8,880mg/L.

Not all wells were analyzed for all parameters but over 300 wells indicated
problems in one or more pollution parameters."