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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Evaluating Conservation Practices Within the Upper Big Walnut Creek Watershed: Water Quality, Ecology, Soil, and Economic Perspectives

Authors
item Smiley, Peter
item King, Kevin
item Baker, Barbara
item Fausey, Norman
item Tennity, Colleen - USDA NRCS
item Sohngen, Brent - THE OHIO STATE UNIV.

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 3, 2006
Publication Date: March 1, 2006
Citation: Smiley, P.C., King, K.W., Baker, B.J., Fausey, N.R., Tennity, C., Sohngen, B. 2006. Evaluating conservation practices within the Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed: water quality, ecology, soil, and economic perspectives. Meeting Abstract. p. 15.

Technical Abstract: The Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed (USGS HUC 0506001-130) is a 492 km2 watershed located north of Columbus, Ohio, and serves as a source of drinking water for 800,000 residents of Columbus. Streams in the watershed flow into the Hoover Reservoir, and then downstream into the Scioto River. The Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed contains mostly low gradient warmwater streams adjacent to row crop agriculture. Soils in the watershed exhibit slow water permeability, which in conjunction with extensive agricultural land use has led to the widespread use of tile and surface drains for draining agricultural fields. The Ohio EPA has documented that the majority of headwater streams in the Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed are impaired by nutrient enrichment, pathogens, and habitat degradation stemming from current agricultural practices. Atrazine levels within the Hoover Reservoir in the past decade have periodically exceeded human health advisory levels and led to further concerns about water quality within the watershed. We are evaluating conservation practices designed to reduce nonpoint source pollution and improve habitat quality as part of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). Ongoing research within the watershed involves assessments of water quality, ecology, soil quality, and economics related to the implementation of conservation practices within the watershed. Water chemistry and hydrology assessments use flumes and automated samplers to evaluate the influence of conservation practices, watershed size, and land use on nutrients, pesticides, herbicides, suspended sediment, and discharge within agricultural watersheds. Ecological assessment involves field studies examining the influence of riparian buffers on geomorphology, riparian habitat, hydrology, water chemistry, fishes, and macroinvertebrates within headwater drainage ditches. Soil samples were collected to examine if soil quality of agricultural fields differs among soil type, soil depth, and conservation practices. A conjoint analysis was conducted to identify which aspects of natural resource conservation the public values the most and to assess the benefits and costs of implementing conservation practices. Soil and Water Conservation Districts from counties within the watershed and the Natural Resources Conservation Service have assisted with research efforts by providing site and landowner information. Private landowners have also contributed by allowing access to their properties and allowing the construction of necessary research equipment. This interdisciplinary effort will provide information on the effectiveness and suitability of current conservation practices used within the watershed.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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