What Can Animal Owners Do?
Animals of any kind can contribute pathogens (including bacteria and viruses) and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to their surrounding enviroment. Animals that receive medicine will also eliminate that as a byproduct. Whether you keep a few chickens or a have a large dairy farm, utilizing some basic Best Management Practices (BMPs) will help ensure that your animals will not have a negative impact on the watershed.
Check Your Local Regulations: Some towns have guidelines for agricultural animals and uses within specific zoning districts. While the inland wetland and watercourse statutes for the State of Connecticut do list some exemptions related to agricultural animals, activities such as filling in wetlands and watercourses and polluting water are not exempt. Additionally, your town may be able to direct you to specific organizations or guidelines based on your specific needs. Call your local Land Use Department for further information.
Follow Recommended Best Management Practices: Whether it is number of animals per acre, stream buffer setbacks, sizing of pasture and sacrifice areas or pest control, there are guidelines available aimed at protecting the health of your animal(s) and the environment. For more information check out these resources.
Maintain Those Buffers: Simply keeping animals fenced out of areas next to streams, wetlands, flood prone land and drainage ways is a HUGE step towards reducing impact to water quality. It also helps reduce erosion and maintain streambank stability. Vegetative buffers that maintain the natural vegetation or where native vegetation is encouraged are best. Vegetation helps filter out pollutants before they enter a water body and keeps soil intact, even during heavy rains.