Impact of Agricultural Water Conservation on Water Quality in Arid Irrigated Areas

by James E. Ayars,
Kenneth K. Tanji,
Thomas J. Trout,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: North American Water and Environment Congress & Destructive Water


Water quality constituents of concern in irrigation return flow include sediment, nitrate, pesticides, and trace elements. Each of these components can be affected by irrigation and drain water management. This paper highlights the qualitative impacts of irrigation on surface and ground water quality and gives examples of the impacts of irrigation management and conservation on surface and ground water quality. For example, modifying surface irrigation management to reduce tail-water runoff and sediment loading may result in increased deep percolation which carries nitrate to the ground water. Improved irrigation management, which reduces deep percolation losses, will reduce the transport of soluble chemicals (nitrate) to ground water.

Subject Headings: Water quality | Water conservation | Irrigation | Irrigation water | Arid lands | Groundwater management | Surface irrigation | Nitrates

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