Horse Properties and Watershed Protection

It may surprise you to learn that no matter where you live, you live in a watershed. More than just the flood plain around a river, a watershed also includes the surfaces around our homes which drain into a common river, lake, or bay. What you and your horses and livestock do affects everyone in your watershed – plants, people, and other animals.

During rainfall, uncovered manure can be washed from corrals and pastures into our waterways. Manure runoff can increase the concentration of bacteria and nitrates in our water which can make us sick. Excessive amounts of nitrates can cause algae blooms which can kill fish and plant life in streams and lakes.

We encourage horse and livestock owners to stay informed of their local compliance requirements so clean water standards can be achieved.

Some practical things you can do to keep our watersheds clean:

  1. Site barns, corrals, and paddocks away from drainage areas;
  2. Design wash racks so rinse water does not drain off your property;
  3. Collect soiled bedding and manure from stalls and paddocks daily. Store in sturdy, leak-proof containers or a well-placed manure pit;
  4. Plant vegetation to absorb runoff and prevent erosion around your facilities;
  5. Loose or stockpiled dirt can clog streams – cover it with tarps or create a berm;
  6. Shelter animals away from streams and areas where runoff can carry manure with rainfall;
  7. Avoid disposal fees by composting manure; an easy and useful thing to do. Store it away from rivers and creeks. Learn more at 877-R-1-EARTH (877.713.2784);
  8. Use less toxic or non-toxic products for fly control. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and Predator Flies remain excellent choices;
  9. Adopt a trail and work with others to keep it free of trash and debris.

To learn more on how to keep your watershed clean in San Diego County, log on to


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