Improving the Quality of Irrigation Drainage Water Being Used to Support a Wildlife Refuge
* What, if any, agricultural return flows can be treated successfully using natural soils or chemical agents, e.g. PhosPhilterTM, as filtering agents?
* Using a constructed treatment system, can we demonstrate the effectiveness in providing water quality improvement benefits to irrigators, the local environment, and related waterfowl and wildlife, such as on the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge?
Need and Benefit
Water delivered through Reclamation projects is often used to irrigate lands such as those within the Westside Improvement District. Throughout Reclamation, runoff from fields and agriculture return drains contain high levels of nutrients and other agricultural chemicals, and these drainage waters are often subsequently used for additional purposes. If waters are impaired with these contaminants, they can threaten Reclamation projects in their ability to sustain water deliveries. Using a constructed treatment system, we propose to demonstrate the effectiveness in providing water quality improvement benefits to irrigators, the local environment, and related waterfowl and wildlife, such as on the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This work is being done in cooperation between Reclamation's Science and Technology (S&T) Program and Mid-Pacific (MP) Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and local landowners. In addition to providing new scientific information, this effort demonstrates the value and efficiency of cooperation between Federal and local entities.
Field trials can be duplicated throughout the Western United States. Combinations of soils, additives and differing plant materials can effectively filter out certain compounds which are not conducive to required water quantity standards. Effective passive water treatment to improve water quality is essential for continued water use in the agricultural arena. Passive water treatment will save power costs, either directly or indirectly, for individuals, districts, end users, National Wildlife Refuges, etc. It will save on costs for installation of on-farm water treatment facilities, if the irrigators can afford them, or avoid shutting down on-farm irrigation deliveries, which would deprive the irrigator of a viable economic livelihood. Water necessary for the Tule National Wildlife Refuge is partially delivered through agricultural users. Waterfowl, etc. need good water quality, and this proposal will assist in defining conditions of suitable water delivery.
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