Midwest Farming: Sand Deposited by Floods – What are Your Options?

    Land that might have been grazed this summer is now covered by sand and silt deposits from 2019 spring flooding. Photo: Jerry Volesky UN-L CropWatch

    Once waters receded following the March 2019 floods, many Nebraskans found sand and sediment deposited on their fields and properties. Landowners can consider a number of options for sand removal, according to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

    Can I push the sand back into the river?

    Potentially, sand can be pushed back into the river. Those who are interested in this option need to apply for – and receive – a permit from the United States Army Corps of Engineers. This permit is a general regional permit for flood-related work and is called RGP-11-02-WEH.

    To apply for this permit, call (402) 896-0896, or go here.  If you select “Application Form” and the form does not open, right click on the link, and save the form. This website also contains instructions and guidance. To view the general regional permit for flood-related work, go here and select RGP-11-02-WEH.

    The permit may have conditions that are location-specific, including:

    • The amount of sand that can be pushed to the river per day
    • If sand can only be pushed into flowing water
    • Endangered species restrictions
    • If the sediment must return to the stream it came from
    • The time of year
    • Restrictions on pushing trees, large debris, fencing, white goods and/or trash into the stream.

    What are other options for sand?

    Farmers and landowners may be able to work the sand into their soil. If there is too much sand for this option, the following issues should be considered relating to the disposal or reuse of sand:


    Sand that is contaminated with fecal matter, oil, or other chemical products should be disposed of in a municipal solid waste landfill.

    Uncontaminated sand may also be disposed of in a municipal solid waste landfill or in a construction and demolition landfill.

    NDEQ maintains lists of these types of landfills on its website. Contact the facility nearest you for disposal costs or other requirements.

    Sand Reuse

    Potential areas of reuse of sand include:

    • Municipal solid waste landfills use soil to cover the waste on a daily basis.  Contact the nearest municipal solid waste landfill to determine if they will accept the sand for use as daily cover.
    • Erosion repair
    • Landscaping
    • At dairy operations for bedding
    • Road repair and new roadbed construction
    • For fracking projects
    • Having stockpiles for future use in winter on roads
    • Other land improvements and developing opportunities.

    Sand used for these purposes should not involve direct human contact such as use in children’s play areas or residential gardening.  The sand should be free of other materials such as flood debris, trash, or other wastes.  Those materials should be disposed of in a municipal landfill.

    Contact local government or other contractors that routinely use soil as a fill material.  These entities include construction contractors, county and city road departments, and landscaping businesses.

    Another resource for potential reuse of sand is your local Emergency Manager.

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