Effect of Agricultural Drainage on Water Quality in the Mid-Atlantic States

by A. Shirmohammadi, Univ of Maryland, College Park, United States,
R. D. Wenberg, Univ of Maryland, College Park, United States,
W. F. Ritter, Univ of Maryland, College Park, United States,
F. S. Wright, Univ of Maryland, College Park, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


Agricultural drainage development in the form of drainage alone and controlled drainage-subirrigation (CD-SI) has created conflicts with environmental concerns. Most concerns the lack of research data; however, the public knowledge of the history, development, design, and water quality impacts of these systems can be improved. The research activities of the 1970's and 1980's in some states have some of the adverse and beneficial impacts of agricultural drainage and overall water table management systems. This paper reviews the history, magnitude, institutional and social constraints, and the water quality impacts of agricultural drainage in the Mid-Atlantic States (New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia). It also provides examples of the results from selected research activities in these states. Finally, this paper provides some thoughts on research needs. Overall, this study concludes that the research data on the impact of agricultural drainage on water quality and the data that provides the guidelines for the specific geologic conditions of the Mid-Atlantic States is limited and in many instances non-existent. Although drainage legislation in these states has a history of success in forming drainage districts and associations, accurate research data is needed to address the environmental concerns (negative and positive) of these systems.

Subject Headings: Water quality | Drainage | Irrigation water | Quality control | Water table | Systems management | Drainage systems | Water management | Mid Atlantic

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