Artificial Recharge in the Oakes Test Area

by Arden W. Freitag,
Dale R. Esser,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


The Oakes Test Area (OTA) was developed to evaluate predicted impacts of developing irrigation in the Garrison Diversion Unit in North Dakota. A limited irrigation water supply has forced operators to closely manage water resources and develop alternatives. Artfficial recharge is accomplished by spreading water in surface depressions and utilizing subsurface drains to redistribute the water within the aquifer and reduce the ground water mounds. Drains have been checked to limit drainage and store recharge water for later use. The average water table fluctuated approximately 1.8 m during the 1988–1995 period. These operations provided a viable alternative for increasing water supplies over traditional appropriations. During the 1984–1994 period, nitrate-nitrogen levels from the pipe drain outlets varied from 0.4 to 8.0 mg/I. Drainage nitrate-nitrogen concentrations entering the James River have been below 3.0 mg/l due to uptake and denitriflcation as the water flows through marshes en route to the river. Nitrate-nitrogen levels near the bottom of the aquifer have remained below 0.5 mg/l.

Subject Headings: Artificial recharge | Impact tests | Water resources | Drainage | Nitrates | Water supply | Irrigation | Water management | North Dakota | United States

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