Horse racing hasn’t lost its attraction as a traditional sports and entertainment, yet communities that have race traxks, harbor certain environmental concerns. It was only decades later when it was learned that horse wastes, particularly manure, caused detrimental impact on land and water.
There was a time when racetrack operators cleaned stalls and stables by simply allowing horse manure and other wastes to run off in outlying lands and bodies of water. There seemed to be no problem about the method since most animal manure are usable as organic fertilizers. Decades later though, certain changes transpired in the environment, which received attention only when environmental activists sought the intervention of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
What the EPA Found Out as Environmental Hazards of Horse Manure
Although animal manure have been in use as organic fertilizers, later studies showed that manure varies greatly among species of animals. The amount of nitrogen and phosphorus, the nutrients regarded as highly potent for fertilization purposes is not standard. Horse manure for one carried great levels of phosphorus content that if not properly managed for fertilizer use, are agriculturally harmful because crops tend to take in more phosphorus than what they ordinarily need.
Moreover, when nitrogen and phosphorus build up occurs on land, the excess nutrients are later transported by way of water runoffs that flow to ground water sources, to rivers and lakes. Through several decades, nitrogen and phosphorus deposited by water run-offs eventually took effect by promoting algae growth. The abundance of algae, had in return, caused imbalance in aquatic eco-systems due to eutrophication.
What is Eutrophication?
– Eutrophication is that condition in bodies of water where runoffs have deposited excessive nutrients resulting in algae propagation. The dense algae in turn results in oxygen loss, which is detrimental to the aquatic animals living in such habitats.
The EPA also found out that manure nutrients had also run off in groundwater sources such as water wells from where community residents derive drinking water. Since the EPA found some groundwater sources contained high levels of nitrates. This prompted the agency to give advice to municipalities to check the nitrate levels in their sources of drinking water. According to the EPA, the maximum level of nitrate must not exceed 10 parts per million, in order to make ground water safe for human consumption.
How Does the EPA Enforce Rules on Proper Horse Waste Management
The EPA has since been vigilant in monitoring compliance with proper animal manure waste management systems, not only in farns but also in racetracks. In fact, in 2016, agents of the EPA found the New York Racing Association (NYRA) in violation of the Clean Water Act. As it was, the NYRA had been discharging process wastewater of the Aqueduct Racetrack into two separate but connected storm sewer systems during dry weather. The waster water eventually found its way to Jamaica Bay of the United States.
The NYRA was sanctioned with a $150,000 fine and was ordered to institute remedies that reduced, or offset the harm caused by the association’s violation. Aside from being ordered to cease with the practice, the NYRA was required to submit yearly reports about their plans for wastewater elimination, including horse washing.
In sponsoring this environmental article, Past the Wire gives assurance to horse racing fans that environmental concerns about race tracks are being addressed. Violators if any, are required to institute remedial actions, as well as pay fines as a way to prevent recurring violations.
As an aside, when looking for any kind of horse racing data, Past the Wire recommends Equibase as a one-stop-shop for all kinds of information that has been driving a data-driven industry.