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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Watershed Assessment of Conservation Practices
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  • Nutrients, pesticides, and emerging contaminants in drinking water supplies.
  • 11,000 community water systems serving 180 million US customers.
  • Emphasis on federal policy and dollars targeted for conservation programs.
  • Excessive agrichemical concentrations in Hoover Reservoir requiring high cost treatment prior to delivery.
  • Extensive subsurface tile drainage in watershed.
  • 800,000 City of Columbus residents receive drinking water from Hoover Reservoir.


  • Identify, develop, and quantify watershed scale water quality impacts of conservation practices.


  • Quantify the watershed scale water chemistry impacts of precision nutrient management and pesticide management


  • Paired design using both channelized and unchannelized streams; each watershed has an approximate 2 square mile drainage area

Progress & Findings:

  • Paired design is valid and appropriate for these research sites.
  • Three years of baseline data on each of four targeted watersheds.
  • Field level management records collected for 70% of cropped area.
  • Development, release, and implementation of a special Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) targeting precision nutrient management and pesticide management.
  • Pesticide management practices significantly reduce stream level atrazine concentrations.


  • Characterize the hydrology of channelized versus nonchannelized streams.


  • Two years of hydrology measurements on two channelized and two nonchannelized streams within UBWC watershed.


  • Hydrology of channelized and unchannelized streams is different.
  • Measured differences in hydrology primarily realized in summer and winter.
  • Headwater streams in UBWC watershed generally follow the accepted hydrology paradigm for headwater streams.


  • Assess the benefits and costs of implementing conservation practices in the Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed.


  • Conjoint analysis to determine value of improved drinking water.


  • For every dollar spent on conservation practices the City of Columbus saved $2.58 on activated carbon.
  • Atrazine concentrations in Hoover Reservoir were reduced.


Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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