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The Role of Retention Control Structures in Animal Feeding Operations

In the realm of animal feeding operations (AFOs), one factor that has shown its indispensable relevance in terms of environmental sustainability is the incorporation of retention control structures (RCS). These engineered structures play a crucial role in effectively managing water and nutrient outputs of AFOs, with their primary objective being to reduce pollution that can negatively impact surrounding aquatic ecosystems. Understanding the importance of these structures involves delving into the mechanisms through which they function, as well as the rigorous standards they are required to meet.

Retention Pond
Retention Pond 2


A properly designed and constructed AFO ensures that all water, including rainfall, is guided toward an RCS. The water collected in an RCS is typically rich in nutrients derived from animal waste. When appropriately managed, these nutrients can be effectively utilized in agricultural practices. However, if these nutrient concentrations are allowed to escape into local streams, rivers, and lakes, they can cause excessive algal growth and consequent hypoxic conditions, leading to the decline of aquatic life – a phenomenon known as eutrophication.


For these reasons, RCS design and construction criteria must align with stringent technical standards developed by renowned organizations such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), or ASTM International. These organizations provide guidelines that serve as a robust framework for the design, construction, and maintenance of RCS.


In the context of Texas, specific requirements for RCSs are outlined in the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation General Permit TXG920000 Part III.A.6. Compliance with these standards assures a level of performance that safeguards our valuable water resources from the potential environmental impacts of animal feeding operations.


The challenges involved in aligning with these strict standards necessitate the expertise of proficient engineers and project managers who specialize in this domain. This is where a company like Talon/LPE can make a significant contribution.


Talon/LPE's project managers are well-versed in all aspects of project management, from the initial design phase to the completion of the project. They are proficient in applying engineering principles and earthwork techniques to construct efficient RCSs that meet the requisite regulatory standards. Talon/LPE’s involvement ensures that every facet of the project is meticulously executed, providing an end product that is environmentally sustainable and adheres to the best management practices.


By coordinating and implementing these crucial tasks, Talon/LPE assists AFOs in achieving their primary objectives while also contributing to broader environmental sustainability efforts. In conclusion, the creation of well-structured and efficiently operating RCSs forms a critical component of any successful and sustainable animal feeding operation. It is a collective effort that requires the collaboration of expert engineers, diligent project managers, and committed stakeholders, all aimed at achieving a healthier and more sustainable environment.