Manure Spill Response & Recovery


  1. Eliminate the source
  2. Contain the spill
  3. Call 911 and notify appropriate  agencies
  4. Clean-up

Manure Lagoon

Emergency Action Plans

The first line of defense against manure spills is to have an Emergency Action Plan. The plan should be discussed ahead of time with all farm employees so that every employee knows his/her role and the steps to take in the event of a manure spill. Contractors, equipment suppliers and local authorities should also be informed of the plan.

Post the plan where all employees can see it, practice, review and revise at least once a year.

Spill Prevention and Applicable Standards

Manure storages must be properly designed, constructed and maintained according to established standards to ensure the stability and safety of the facility. All manure storages need to be inspected periodically for cracks, leaks and other signs of failure. This is especially true for earthen storages which were not professionally designed.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has standards for the construction, operation and maintenance of manure storages in this Field Office Technical Guide. (Click on NYS then a county; Select Section IV of the eFOTG, then one of the standards below).

Applicable conservation practice standards in New York include:

  • NY312 Waste Management System
  • NY313 Waste Storage Facility
  • NY359 Waste Treatment Lagoon
  • NY590 Nutrient Management
  • NY 633 Waste Utilization
  • NY 707 Barnyard Water Management Systems
  • NY 749 Manure Pile Area
  • NY634 Manure Transfer
  • NY 748 Recordkeeping
  • NHCP 360 Closure of Waste Impoundments

Applicable conservation practice guidelines in New York include:

  • Code 313 Waste Storage Structure – Earthen Pond

Educational and Technical Resources

Cornell Dairy Environmental Systems Program – a multi-disciplinary effort in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences  to address critical aspects of dairy farming and its impact on the environment.

Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) provides one-on-one help to farmers to identify and correct environmental risks on farms and prevent future problems.

Hydrogen Sulfide in Manure Handling Systems – Cornell University 

Covers for Long-Term Manure Storage Part 1: Odor Control – Cornell University PRO-DAIRY Program

Self-assessment guide for farm owners – evaluating the safety of a manure storage/digester system – Cornell University.