Section: Contemporary and Emerging Issues
Session: Contemporary and Emerging Issues
Format: Orals
Day/Time: Wednesday 12:15 PM–12:30 PM
Location: 223

# 698
Water usage and discharge volumes on New Mexico dairy operations.
T. M. Vander Dussen*1, G. R. Hagevoort1, J. Lazarus2, E. Naumburg2, R. Ganta2, K. D. Casey3, 1Agricultural Science Center at Clovis, New Mexico State University, Clovis,, 2Glorieta Geoscience Inc., Santa Fe, NM,, 3Texas AgriLife Research, Texas A&M System, Amarillo,.

Water usage on western dairies has become a topic of much debate in recent years. Much of the debate is fueled by incomplete information about the volume of water pumped (total water diversion) and its subsequent distribution for dairy purposes or for irrigation. Water diverted to the dairy is consumed by the cows, used for cooling of milk or cows, or utilized for cleaning. The large majority of the cooling and cleaning water is discharged into the lagoon system and recycled as irrigation water. In New Mexico a discharge permit (DP) is required to discharge “green water” into the lagoon system, and the maximum allowed discharge volume is defined in the permit. Metered discharge volumes into the lagoon system are reported monthly. A review of New Mexico's State Engineer and Environment Department records attempted to determine how much water is actually discharged. Average discharge volumes varied largely depending on the waste water management practices, in particular the use of a flush system. Based on the average herd size in NM (2,293), the average discharge volume per milking cow in 2011 was 28 GPD. Dairies with direct land application or total evaporation systems (19% of DP's) discharged lowest water volumes, typically well below 10,000 GPD. Since individual herd sizes are not reported, it is unknown if large discharge volumes (>100,000 GPD) were simply due to a large herd size, a large flush-system, or poor water management. Over the 2006–2011 reporting period, average discharge volumes peaked in 2008 at 87,000 GPD but have since decreased 27%. Some of the noted measures producers have taken to reduce water usage are: switching from water- to air-cooling systems, abandoning the practice of flushing alleys, reducing hose sizes in barns and wash pens, installation of timers on hoses for wash pen cleaning, etc. Dairies surrounding the Rio Grande watershed reported lower discharge volumes than dairies along New Mexico's East side with little or no nearby surface water. A lower discharge volume ultimately reduces: 1) the risk of accidental non-permitted discharges to waters of the US, 2) the costs of production, and 3) the total water footprint of the dairy operation.

Key Words: water usage, discharge volume, water footprint

How to cite this abstract:

J. Dairy Sci. 95(Suppl. 2):[page number]. or J. Anim. Sci. 90(Suppl. 3):[page number].

To locate the page number, refer to the 2012 Abstract Book here:

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