Evaporation Ponds: What are They; Why Some Concerns

by Kenneth Tanji, Univ of California, Davis, United States,
Stephen Ford, Univ of California, Davis, United States,
Anthony Toto, Univ of California, Davis, United States,
Joseph Summers, Univ of California, Davis, United States,
Lyman Willardson, Univ of California, Davis, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


This is the first of eight papers about agricultural evaporation ponds or basins. This paper describes what evaporation ponds are and why there are some concerns about them. Evaporation ponds are used worldwide in areas where there are constraints or restrictions on the discharge of saline drainwaters to natural salt sinks such as the oceans and closed basins, or into constructed drainage facilities. Drainwaters impounded in such ponds are desiccated by evaporation. In this desiccating process, the dissolved mineral salts and trace elements are evapoconcentrated to elevated levels. Eventually, evaporite minerals precipitate from the pond waters. As the salts and trace elements accumulate in ponds, they may pose a hazard to wildlife attracted to the ponds and seepage losses may degrade the quality of adjacent surface and ground waters. Management options for the disposal and reuse of salt deposits have yet to be developed.

Subject Headings: Evaporation | Ponds | Salt water | Minerals | Drainage | Groundwater | Groundwater quality | Drainage basins

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