The selection of components that make up an agricultural waste management system may be restricted by shallow depth to bedrock because of physical limitations or state and local regulations.
The occurrence of hard, dense, massive, or crystalline rock at a shallow depth may require blasting or heavy excavators to achieve the designed grade. If the rock surface is highly irregular, differential settlement can be a hazard for steel tanks and monolithic structures, such as reinforced concrete tanks. Vegetative practices, such as filter strips, may be difficult to establish on shallow soil or exposed bedrock. Waste applied in areas of shallow or outcropping rock may contaminate ground water because fractures and joints in the rock provide avenues for contaminants.
For waste impoundments, shallow bedrock generally is a serious condition requiring special design considerations. Bedrock of all types is nearly always jointed or fractured when considered as a unit greater than 0.5 to 10 acres in area. Fractures in any type of rock can convey contaminants from an unlined waste storage pond or treatment lagoon to an underlying aquifer. Fractures have relatively little surface area for attenuation of contaminants. In fact, many fractures are wide enough to allow rapid flow. Pathogens may survive the passage from the site to the well and thereby cause a health problem. Consider any rock type within 2 feet of the design grade to be a potential problem. The types of defensive design measures required to address shallow rock conditions depend on site conditions and economic factors. Design options include linings, waste storage tanks, or relocating to a site with favorable foundation conditions.
Sinkholes or caves in karst topography or underground mines may disqualify a site for a waste storage pond or treatment lagoon. The physical hazard of ground collapse and the potential for ground water contamination through the large voids are severe limitations.
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