I'm looking into building a compost pile, and was wondering if I need to water a compost pile if I put it on the edge of a creek.

  • 2
    Number one, get that compost pile away from any creek, body of water, the ocean!! Too much of even a good thing (?) nitrogen will ruin the ecology of that creek. Decomposing usually changes the chemical composition so that it is less nitrogen (as that is the main chemical that decomposers use to decompose)...then there is antibiotics, GMO vegies but too much Nitrogen will screw up the creek. Keep human activities out of that buffer zone. There is a designated buffer zone for all creeks and bodies of water. Where it is illegal to do such and such within that buffer zone.
    – stormy
    Jun 19, 2016 at 20:32
  • That area only floods if you have a major monsoon (if you can call it one in MN, and doesn't even flood if you have snow melt). There is a 6'+ buffer between the actual creek, and the bin next to our wood stacking pallets. Jun 19, 2016 at 22:29
  • Just for fun check the regulations for buffer zones on the differently classes water bodies. LEACHING is a larger problem than flooding.
    – stormy
    Jun 20, 2016 at 23:27
  • The neighbor that has the house on the other side of the creek said improvements like that were OK. I'll trust him. Jun 21, 2016 at 1:53

1 Answer 1


The water in a compost pile needs to be right through the pile if you want the composting to occur throughout the pile. If you site the pile near a creek, how's the water supposed to get from a flowing creek up the bank to the pile?

The consistency of the pile should be like a slightly damp sponge. Too much water and it'll become anaerobic as the pile needs oxygen for the primarily aerobic decomposition to take place.

  • Oh Graham...a better question 'What are the ways chemicals of composting can get into the hydrologic system'?? Leaching, water tables, inordinate addition of organic material and/or nitrogen...etc...erosion, weed plants in the water and weeds (not indigeous to that ecosystem) that out compete native flora that hugely impacts the entire ecosystem of that creek, river, wetlands...so very complex and all networked.
    – stormy
    Jun 20, 2016 at 23:46
  • Which chemicals are you concerned about that result from a normal composting process? Given also that all along the edges of the length of the creek will be decomposing vegetation. Jun 21, 2016 at 0:12
  • High nitrogen and any chemicals that were in the organic scraps such as antibiotics and DRUGS. I was completely amazed how much drugs, such as opiates, meth, cocaine were showing up in the indicator plants and fish just offshore...ocean. I also know there are definite buffer zones for salmon creeks/streams/intermittant streams, lakes. Fortunately or unfortunately for the salmon anyway there are few PESTICIDE COPS and BUFFER ZONE cops out there. ALL human activity, garbage, sewer, lawns and fertilizers, pesticides are verboten. These buffer zones aren't small...300-600 YARDS from water!
    – stormy
    Jun 21, 2016 at 21:10
  • If you're building a compost pile correctly, none of those things go into the pile. Fungi can be used to decontaminate drugs etc, and that's a different process. Jun 22, 2016 at 4:05

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