The Marynowski family is farming a legacy of sustainability. In 2017, the Marynowski family partnered with Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) to implement a year-round solar powered alternative watering system and exclusion fencing project for their 150 beef cattle operation. Alternative watering systems use solar panels, wind turbines, or a combination of both to power a pumping system for providing safe and reliable drinking water to livestock from a nearby source. Alternative watering systems can improve water quality and reduce streambank erosion by controlling livestock access to surface water, like dugouts, rivers, and streams. Exclusion fencing around dugouts and waterways reduce the risk of herd health problems relating to direct watering, like fluke worm, foot rot, and other water borne diseases. Exclusion fencing can also prevent injury or death caused by livestock falling through ice or getting stuck, drowning, or suffocating in muddy rivers and ponds.

The Marynowski Alternative Watering System replaced a dugout, which had served as a watering hole for their summer grazing and overwintering pasture site. The family drilled a deep well at their own expense to mitigate potential problems in drought years when dugouts tend to dry out.

A 24 volt centric pump located in the well is powered by two (2) 160 watt solar panels hooked up to four (4) deep cycle batteries. The system allows the pump to run off of solar energy while excess energy is stored in the batteries for later use at night or on overcast days. The advantage of solar powered systems is that they can be used in areas where electric power lines are unavailable or too expensive to set up. Solar powered systems also replace the need for generators because they are able to run during electric power blackouts. The well head, batteries, and system controls are sheltered in a small shed. This sheltered structure makes it easy to access the system for monitoring and maintenance, especially during inclement weather. The solar panels and motion eye sensor, which activates the pump when cattle approach the trough, are securely mounted high up on the shed to protect the expensive components against damage from livestock and curious wildlife. A new system feature allows an option for producers to use a smartphone app for remotely monitoring system parameters, such as pumping rate and volume. The subscription-based app costs a few dollars a month and requires an area with cell reception to send producers system status notifications.

The Marynowski family also implemented an exclusion fencing project around their dugout. The fencing extends past their dugout and encloses an area which also functions as a bale storage area. This unique multi-purpose space improves on-farm management by keeping bales close at hand and out of livestock reach. The fenced-off area simultaneously acts as a buffer to reduce the likelihood of water contamination caused by manure being washed into the dugout during the spring runoff and after heavy rainfall events.

The projects implemented by the SRRCD are initiated at the local level by people whose livelihoods are deeply connected to the landscape. These innovative projects are custom designed to benefit the unique needs of each farm and to improve the health of our watershed. The SRRCD funded the total project cost of $9,300 for the Marynowski Alternative Watering system and Exclusion Fencing Project:


Item Cost
Solar System $6,200
Shed $850
Batteries $700
Delivery $150
Installation $600
Excavation $700
Fencing materials $100 *
Project Total $9,300
SRRCD Cost $4,675
Landowner cost $4,625


*Funded at 75% of cost, remainder of items funded at 50% cost

Looking Ahead: Lessons Learned

The Marynowski Alternative Watering System has been running at full capacity this winter. The watering trough where the cattle drink has been accessible throughout the winter months and there have been no problems with the trough freezing over. The Marynowski family will be adding a wind turbine to the system to supplement the solar panels. The system can run effectively for up to five (5) consecutive days during overcast and cold winter days. Installing more solar panels requires the addition of more batteries to increase energy storage capacity. The option to add a wind turbine provides a secondary battery recharge mechanism during overcast conditions to ensure that the system will operate most effectively 365 days a year.

The success of these riparian livestock management projects have spread throughout the district. The SRRCD is looking forward to implementing more projects with local producers throughout our watershed.

The SRRCD provides funding for riparian livestock management projects, including:

  • Alternative watering (river, creeks), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $7,500
  • NOTE: The SRRCD does not cover the cost of well drilling.
  • Riparian fencing (rivers, creeks), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $4,000
  • Livestock crossing improvement, 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Alternative watering (dugouts), 50% SRRCD contribution up to $5,000
  • NOTE: The SRRCD does not cover the cost of well drilling.
  • Exclusion fencing (dugouts), 75% SRRCD contribution up to $1,000
  • Grant writing to help you cover 100% of qualifying projects

The SRRCD encourages producers to apply as soon as possible for available funding by contacting our Steinbach office at (204) 326-1030, or our Vita office at (204) 425-7877. You can also visit us online at to download your applications today.