Irrigation-Induced Contamination Problems

by Jonathan P. Deason, US Dep of the Interior, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Critical Water Issues and Computer Applications


At the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in the San Joaquin Valley of California, severe fish and wildlife problems (waterfowl mortality, embryonic deformities, and reproductive failures) were found during the 1982-1984 time frame. Those problems were subsequently linked to elevated levels of the trace element selenium contained in the irrigation drainage water that flowed into Kesterson from the San Luis Unit of the Bureau of Reclamation's Central Valley Project. As a result of that discovery, the Department began checking existing information to see if similar problems existed at other irrigation projects, national wildlife refuges or other important wetland areas for which the Department has responsibilities. It discovered evidence that irrigation drainage water might be adversely affecting fish and wildlife resources or had the potential to affect human health at a number of other locations.

Subject Headings: Water pollution | Irrigation | Wildlife | Pollution | Drainage | Water conservation | Irrigation water | Water resources | California | United States

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