Off-Stream Watering Facilities


The hypothesis on which this practice is based is that, given a choice between a clean and convenient off-stream water source and a stream, cattle will preferentially drink from off-stream water source and reduce the time they spend near and in streams and streambanks.

Initiation protocol:

The net effectiveness of the practice must reflect partial removal of livestock from near stream areas and relocation of animal waste deposition areas and heavy traffic areas surrounding water sources to more upland locations. Contact the local Soil Conservation District or University of Maryland Extension for assistance.

Public acceptance:

Widely accepted as the general population understands the link between cattle manure in a water source contributes to poor water quality and a public health concern.

Implementation Factors (level of difficulty):

Moderate. This practice requires the use of alternative drinking water sources away from streams. The BMP may also include options to provide off-stream shade for livestock, and implementing a shade component is encouraged where applicable.

Funding Sources / Options:

Cost-share grants are available to install this practice through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Farm Bill programs.


Costs estimated as $ per acre of practice installed. 

Cost Estimates EPA MDA Average
Initial $21,483 $826.67 $11,154.84
Annual $- $- $-
Lifespan (yrs) 15 10 15
Annualized $1,432.20 $82.67 $757.43

Note: MDA estimates $12,400 for a 15-acre operation

Load Reduction Efficiency:

Average Total Nitrogen removed per acre of practice per year


0.18 lbs.


0.37 lbs.


0.75 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $110 and $459

Average Total Phosphorous removed per acre of practice per year


0.03 lbs.


0.05 lbs.


0.13 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $636 and $2,756

Average Total Suspended Solids removed per acre of practice per year


4 lbs.


21 lbs.


75 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $1.10 and $20.67

Operation & Maintenance:

Regular inspection to ensure structural integrity of the fence is maintained.

Climate Change Considerations:



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