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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Developing Sustainable Cropping Systems to Improve Water Productivity and Protect Water and Soil Quality in Irrigated Agriculture

Location: Water Management Research

Title: The San Joaquin Valley: 20 years later

item Ayars, James - Jim
item Hanson, Blaine
item Mirzaev, Bakhodir

Submitted to: USCID International Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2013
Publication Date: 4/16/2013
Citation: Ayars, J.E., Hanson, B.R., Mirzaev, B. 2013. The San Joaquin Valley: 20 years later. Seventh International Conference on Irrigation and Drainage. Using 21st Century Technology to Better Manage Irrigation Water Supplies. Ed. B.T Wahlin, S.S. Anderson. p. 1-2

Interpretive Summary: Disposal of saline drainage water is a significant problem in the Central Valley of California and in irrigated agriculture throughout the world. Drainage was eliminated from the westside of the San Joaquin Valley 20 years ago as a result of the accumulation of Se in wildlife that resulted in death. A research program developed 8 major in valley recommendations to solve the problem. The principal recommendations were: source control (improved irrigation), reuse of drainage water for irrigation, and land retirement. These recommendations were successfully implemented on nearly 700,000 acres of irrigated land on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley and agriculture has been maintained as a result. Additional challenges remain to insure a sustainable future for irrigated agriculture but implementation of source control, land retirement and reuse provide opportunities for solving those challenges. These recommendations are applicable for irrigated agriculture throughout the world.

Technical Abstract: The history of irrigation development and the need for disposal of saline drainage water in the San Joaquin Valley was described to provide background for the drainage water disposal problem that resulted from the closure of the Kesterson Reservoir. A 5 year study developed in Valley alternatives for disposal of saline drainage water containing toxic trace elements. Eight recommendations were developed with the most effective methods being source control (improved irrigation), drainage water reuse for supplemental irrigation, discharge to the San Joaquin River, and land retirement. Several of these recommendations have been implemented on nearly 695,000 acres on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley. Several lawsuits resulted in the US Bureau of Reclamation preparing alternatives to provide drainage water disposal but did not require the construction of the selected alternatives. There have been nearly 200,000 acres of land retired on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley as part of the selected alternative.

Last Modified: 08/18/2017
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