Effect of Agricultural Drainage on Water Quality in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada

by W. F. Ritter, Univ of Delaware, Newark, United States,
R. P. Rudra, Univ of Delaware, Newark, United States,
P. H. Milburn, Univ of Delaware, Newark, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Management of Irrigation and Drainage Systems: Integrated Perspectives

Abstract: Drainage has been used in the northeastern U.S. since colonial times. It has only been since the 1970s subsurface drains have been installed at a significant rate in Quebec. Drainage in Ontario was first installed in the mid 1800s. Today there is an increasing concern that drainage is harmful to the environment. Only recently have projects been initiated to evaluate the environmental impacts of agricultural drainage. Nitrates have been found in drainage waters in high concentrations in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Pesticides have also been detected in drainage water. Research has identified the need for integrated management of water quality and quantity. There is a need to quantify the role of preferential flow in the pollution of surface and subsurface drainage water and to develop a modeling approach that is applicable at the field and watershed scale.

Subject Headings: Drainage | Water quality | Hydrologic models | Water pollution | Subsurface drainage | Irrigation water | Agricultural wastes | Quality control | Environmental issues | North America | Canada | Ontario | Quebec | New Brunswick

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