Water for Livestock and Feedlot Operations

irrigation, a water tower and a factory

Livestock – MPCA Flickr (2009)

At many farms throughout the state of Minnesota water is pumped from groundwater to supply drinking water for various types of livestock, including: beef cattle, dairy cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens. Water is also used for cleaning the animals and buildings for sanitary needs at a farm.

The Minnesota DNR is required to manage water use for all Minnesotans, including farmers and their livestock operations. In some parts of the state, groundwater, is in limited supply due to the size and type of aquifers below the ground. Elsewhere, the number of water users in a particular area may stress water supplies, particularly where groundwater is limited in the southern and western portion of the state. The DNR recognizes water is an important component to a successful farming operation and it’s critical we work with producers to manage our water resources now and in the future.

In order to help the DNR manage water for everyone in the state, a permit is required when water use is more than 1 million gallons of water per year or 10,000 gallons of water on any given day. Most livestock operations do not use more than 1 million gallons per year, but there are many that do. To help determine water use at your farm contact your DNR area hydrologist for assistance.

It’s easy to apply for a permit. Applications to use water can be completed using an online permitting system called the Minnesota DNR Permitting and Reporting System (MPARS). If it’s the first time you will be using MPARS you will need to create an account to get started. Once an application has been submitted, a DNR area hydrologist will be in contact with you about your application and water use at your farm.

open MPARS

Apply for water permits and preliminary well construction assessments, request changes to existing permits, and report annual water use using MPARS.

open MPARS

If your water use is between 1 and 5 million gallons per year and your facility meets the requirements of the General Permit for Animal Feedlots and Livestock Operations No. 2004-0275:

  • A $400 application fee is required for the review, analysis and processing of your water use application by DNR staff.
  • Annually, all water users are required to report the amount of water they use, including monthly totals.
  • Livestock producers who get permit coverage under the General Permit (Farm uses between 1 – 5 MGY) are not required to pay water use fees with the annual water use report.
  • Combined pump rates for water use under the General Permit cannot exceed 100 gallons per minute (gpm).

For livestock water use greater than 5 million gallons per year or for uses not covered by the DNR Livestock Watering General Permit No. 2004-0275:

  • A $150 application fee is required.
  • Water use fees are required and an annual water use report, with monthly totals, must be submitted to the DNR.

Annual volumes of monthly water use reported to the DNR help manage groundwater for all users, including domestic private well owners, farmers, municipalities and businesses. It also informs the DNR of any potential impacts to nearby natural resources like wetlands, lakes and streams that are connected to groundwater aquifers.

Additional information about livestock water use

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