Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
Abstract In much of the San Joaquin Valley, California, USA, inadequate drainage of applied irrigation water and accumulating salts in the soil have necessitated the installation of subsurface tile drainage systems to preserve crop productivity. At present, these subsurface drainage waters are disposed of by means of evaporation ponds or discharges into the San Joaquin River. Unfortunately, most of these agricultural drainage waters contain high concentrations of salts and naturally occurring trace elements, such as selenium, and recent evidence indicates that substantial numbers of waterbirds are exposed to contamination by selenium in the evaporation ponds. In order to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the adverse impacts on wildlife using the ponds, alternative pond management methods must be identified and evaluated for implementation. A number of methods have the potential to be cost-effective in significantly reducing the contamination hazard to birds using agricultural evaporation ponds. Twenty general methods were evaluated in this study, and four methods are recommended for implementation: remove levee vegetation, remove windbreaks, deepen the ponds, and haze birds. A number of other methods are recommended for further consideration because they appear to have good prospects for reducing the contamination hazard: steepen interior levee slopes, apply herbicides and insecticides, place netting on pond shorelines, and provide freshwater habitat adjacent to evaporation ponds. It may be necessary to use a combination of methods to effectively control selenium contamination of aquatic birds because it is unlikely that a single affordable pond management method will be able to entirely eliminate the contamination hazard.
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