Selenium: Essential Nutrient or Toxic Threat?

by Stephen B. Moore, San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program, Sacramento, CA, USA,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Irrigation Systems for the 21st Century

Abstract: The essential nutrient selenium is believed responsible for numerous deformities, reproductive failures, and deaths of migratory birds at Kesterson Reservoir in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Adverse effects upon wildlife at the reservoir appeared only a few years after the area began receiving selenium laden subsurface drainage water from less than 42,000 (17,000 hectares) of agricultural land. It is estimated that in order to sustain irrigated agriculture and associated high levels of crop productivity, over one million acres of land on the west side of the valley must eventually be drained. Unless extraordinary measures are taken, the potential is great for adverse effects upon water quality and public health, and continued harm to fish and wildlife resources of the San Joaquin Valley.

Subject Headings: Selenium | Nutrients | Toxicity | Public health and safety | Reservoirs | Subsurface drainage | Irrigation water | Wildlife | Irrigation | North America | California | United States

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