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Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems What Can Be Learned from the San Joaquin Valley Experience Committee on Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems Water Science and Technology Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1989

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National Academy Press . 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. . Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of.Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of dis- tinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Support for this project was provided by the State of California and the U.S. Department of the Interior under Cooperative Agreement No. S-FC-20-02940. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems. Irrigation-induced water quality problems: what can be learned from the San Joaquin Valley experience? / Committee on Irrigation -Induced Water Quality Problems, Water Science and Technology Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources, National Research Council. p. cm. "June 1989 draft." Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-309-04036-1 1. Irrigation farming-Environmental aspects-California-San Joaquin River Valley. 2. Water-Pollution-California-San Joaquin River Valley. 3. Water quality-California-San Joaquin River Valley. 4. San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program. I. Title. TD428.A37N37 1989 363.73'942'09794~dc20 Copyright (if) 1989 by the National Academy of Sciences 89-13094 CIP No part of this book may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic process, or in the form of a phonographic recording, nor may it be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or otherwise copied for public or private use, without written permission from the publisher, except for the purposes of official use by the U.S. government. Printed in the United States of America

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COMMITTEE ON IRRIGATION-INDUCED WATER QUALITY PROBLEMS (May 1985-March 1990) JAN VAN SCHILFGAARDE, Agricultural Research Service, Chairman (May 1986-March 1990), Member (1985-1986) WILLIAM H. ALLAWAY, Cornell University, Chairman (May 1985-April 1986), Member (1986-1987) ERNEST E. ANGINO, University of Kansas (1985-1990) MARGRIET F. CASWELL, University of California, Santa Barbara (1985-1990) EDWIN H. CLARK II, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Dover, Delaware (1985-1990) CHARLES T. DuMARS, University of New Mexico (1988-1990) WILFORD R. GARDNER, University of California, Berkeley (1985-1990) ROLF HARTUNG, University of Michigan (1985-1990) CHARLES D. D. HOWARD, Charles Howard and Associates, Ltd., Victoria, British Columbia (1988-1990) L. DOUGLAS JAMES, Utah State University (1985-1990) WILLIAM M. LEWIS, JR., University of Colorado, Boulder (1988-1990) ROBERT R. MEGLEN, University of Colorado at Denver (1985-1990) FRANCOIS M. M. MOREL, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1985-1988) ISHWAR P. MURARKA, Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, California (1988-1990) OSCAR E. OLSON, South Dakota State University (1985-1987) W. SCOTT OVERTON, Oregon State University (1985-1988) ALBERT L. PAGE, University of California, Riverside (1988-1990) MERILYN B. REEVES, League of Women Voters, Amity, Oregon (1985-1990) KENNETH D. SCHMIDT, Kenneth Schmidt & Associates, Fresno, California (1985-1988) R. RHODES TRUSSELL, Montgomery Consulting Engineers, Inc., Pasadena, California (1985-1988) DANIEL E. WILLARD, Indiana University (1985-1990) Ex Officio (VVSTB Members) G. RICHARD MARZOLF, Murray State University GORDON G. ROBECK, Environmental Engineer, Laguna Hills, California ~

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National Research Council Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Project Manager, Water Science and Technology Board PATRICK W. HOLDEN, Project Manager, Water Science and Technology Board (through mid-October 1987) JEANNE AQUILINO, Project Secretary, Water Science and Technology Board Agency Liaisons to Committee EDGAR A. IMHOFF, Program Manager, San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program JONATHAN P. DEASON, Manager, National Irrigation Water Quality Program 1V

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WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD MICHAEL C. KAVANAUGH, James M. Montgomery Consulting Engineers, Oakland, California, Chairman NORMAN H. BROOKS, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena STEPHEN J. BURGES, University of Washington (through 6/30/89) RICHARD ~ CONWAY, Union Carbide Corporation, South Charleston, West Virginia JAMES P. HEANEY, University of Florida R. KEITH HIGGINSON, Idaho Department of Water Resources, Boise (through 6/30/89) HOWARD C. KUNREUTHER, University of Pennsylvania LUNA B. LEOPOLD, University of California-Berkeley (through 6/30/89) G. RICHARD MARZOLF, Murray State University ROBERT R. MEGLEN, University of Colorado at Denver JAMES W. MERGER, Georgians, Herndon, Virginia (through 6/30/89) DONALD J. O'CONNOR, HydroQual, Inc., Mahwah, New Jersey BETTY H. OLSON, University of California at Irvine P. SURESH C. RAO, University of Florida GORDON G. ROBECK, Consultant, Laguna Hills, California (through 6/30/89) PATRICIA L. ROSENFIELD, The Carnegie Corporation of New York DONALD D. RUNNELLS, University of Colorado, Boulder A. DAN TARLOCK, Chicago Kent College of Law HUGO F. THOMAS, Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, Connecticut JAMES R. WALLIS, IBM Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New York M. GORDON WOLMAN, The Johns Hopkins University Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director SHEILA D. DAVID, Staff Officer CHRIS ELFRING, Staff Officer WENDY L. MELGIN, Staff Officer JEANNE AQUILINO, Administrative Assistant ANITA ~ HALL, Senior Secretary RENEE A. HAWKINS, Senior Secretary v

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COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, ANI) RESOURCES NORMAN HACKERMAN, Robert A. Welch Foundation, Chairman GEORGE R. CARRIER, Harvard University HERBERT D. DOAN, The Dow Chemical Company (retired) PETER S. EAGLESON, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MARYE ANNE FOX, University of Texas GERHART FRIEDLANDER, Brookhaven National Laboratory LAWRENCE W. FUNKHOUSER, Chevron Corporation (retired) PHILLIP A. GRIFFITHS, Duke University CHRISTOPHER F. McKEE, University of California at Berkeley JACK E. OLIVER, Cornell University JEREMIAH P. OSTRIKER, Princeton University Observatory FRANK L. PARKER, Vanderbilt University DENIS J. PRAGER, MacArthur Foundation DAVID M. RAUP, University of Chicago RICHARD J. REED, University of Washington ROY F. SCHWI l~l~;RS, Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory ROBERT E. SIEVERS, University of Colorado LEON T. SILVER, California Institute of Technology LARRY L. SMARR, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign EDWARD C. STONE, JR., California Institute of Technology KARL L. TUREKIAN, Yale University IRVING WLADAWSKY-BERGER, IBM Corporation MYRON F. UMAN, Acting Executive Director V1

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Preface Irrigation brings many benefits to society, but it also can bring prob- lems. The irrigation-induced selenium contamination at Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and the ongoing problems with irrigation drainage throughout California's San Joaquin Valley illustrate the conflicts that can arise between the interests of agriculture and the environment. But the events in the San Joaquin Valley also offer insights that can guide deci- sionmakers in the future as they strive to balance the needs of agriculture and the environment. This report is an attempt to highlight some of those insights. All decisionmakers face the dilemma of dealing with competing inter- ests people who see a problem differently and thus seek different solutions. Rarely will decisionmakers find themselves choosing between simple "right" and "wrong" answers; more often they must make complicated judgments and weigh competing values. Maintaining crop production, enhancing wildlife habitats, improving water quality, ensuring public health: these are all admirable goals, but they are not necessarily compatible. More and more, science is playing a critical role in searching for solutions to significant environmental problems and mediating the conflicts that arise. This committee believes that one step decisionmakers must take to meet this challenge is to evaluate all potential responses openly and fairly. Decisionmakers must make each policy decision in full public view, they must acknowledge the range of options and examine their advantages and disadvantages, and they must honestly identify which parties stand to gain and which stand to lose. . . V11

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. . . V111 PREFACE The Committee on Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems (Ap- pendix A) was formed in April 1985 to provide ongoing guidance to the San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program (SJVDP), the multiagency team formed to study irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley and search for ways to solve the problems caused by contaminated drainage water. The commit- tee, which operates under the auspices of the National Research Council's Water Science and Technology Board, was also charged to address broader questions and has provided continuing assistance to the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Irrigation Water Quality Program. It has tried to provide a national and future-oriented perspective, one that sees the situation encountered in the San Joaquin Valley as a forewarning of what might be expected to occur elsewhere. During its original 3-year cooperative agreement period (April 1985 to March 1988), 18 members served on the committee, representing the fields of agricultural engineering, soil science, geochemistry, hydrogeology, ecology, economics, public administration, and other relevant disciplines. When the agreement was extended for 2 additional years in April 1988, one-third of the members rotated off and were replaced, bringing an influx of fresh energy but retaining the needed blend of expertise and experience. The committee has worked closely with personnel from the SJVDP. The SJVDP is not responsible for the actual cleanup of the Kesterson NW1R site but is charged to provide a plan to better manage agricultural drainage in the valley so that similar problems do not continue to occur. The committee provided oversight,- evaluated study plans, recommended staff additions, reviewed documents, and made suggestions to improve the caliber of the science and analysis conducted. The committee met frequently with program researchers and managers (Appendix B). The primary product from these activities was advice transmitted through formal National Research Council letter reports (Appendix C). The San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program is a research team drawn from a number of state and federal agencies with different missions, op- erating styles, and constituencies. The SJVDP involves the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geolog- ical Survey, plus the California Department of Fish and Game and the California Department of Water Resources. This diverse group faces a real challenge to develop an effective, equitable, and scientifically sound solution to a complex, politically charged problem in a relatively short time. Despite their separate and sometimes conflicting missions, they have been asked to work together to develop a proposal that would be accepted by all of the many interests affected. The Committee on Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems elected to write this report to consider how the insights gained through the San Joaquin Valley experience might be applied elsewhere. This document

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PREFACE 1X examines the scientific and institutional dimensions of irrigation-induced water quality problems, and it suggests some fundamental elements of good problem solving and policy development that should be considered when similar problems are evaluated in the future. The committee hopes that this effort will be valuable to the people who at whatever level must make decisions about irrigation-induced water quality problems in the future, including policymakers; federal, state, and local agency representatives; resource managers; academics; and the public. Jan van Schilfgaarde, Chairman Committee on Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems

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Contents EXECUTING SUMMARY Kesterson as an Example of a Broader Problem, 2 Understanding the Scientific Dimensions of an Environmental Problem, 3 Understanding the Institutional Dimensions of an Environmental Problem, 4 Resolving Problems: Essential Study Elements, 5 Resolving Problems: Identifying and Evaluating Alternatives, 6 Recommendations, 8 1 INTRODUCTION: KESTERSON AS AN EXAMPLE OF A BROADER PROBLEM Western U.S. Agriculture, 14 The San Joaquin Valley, 16 Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge, 20 State and Federal Involvement, 25 The San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program, 27 The National Irrigation Water Quality Program, 30 Future Irrigation and Drainage Issues, 33 References, 35 2 UNDERSTANDING THE SCIENTIFIC DIMENSIONS OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM 37 How Irrigation Drainage Alters Water Quality, 37 Hydrology and Soils, 41 Geology and Geochemistry, 42 11 X1

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. . X11 Fish and Wildlife Considerations, 46 Public Health Considerations, 48 Conclusions, 50 References, 51 3 UNDERSTANDING THE INSTITUTIONAL DIMENSIONS OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM ..................... Economic Factors, 54 Social Factors, 57 Agencies and Organizations, 61 Legal Issues, 65 Political Factors, 70 Conclusions, 71 References, 72 CONTENTS ...53 4 RESOLVING PROBLEMS: ESSENTIAL STUDY ELEMENTS . . 74 Essential Study Elements, 75 Complexity and Study Design, 86 Uncertainty, 89 Conclusions, 91 References, 92 RESOLVING PROBLEMS: IDENTIFYING AND EVALUATING ALTERNATIVES.................. Technical Options, 96 Institutional Options, 103 Evaluating Alternatives, 110 Conclusions, 116 References, 117 RECOMMENDATIONS .. .. . . . .. .. .. ... .. . . .. . .. .. .. .. .. Planning Issues Related to Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems, 120 Policy Issues Related to Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems, 123 Responding to Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems: A Shared Responsibility, 126 APPENDIXES A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members B Calendar of the Committee's Activities ...................... C Summary of the Committee's Letter Reports. . INDEX ................ . .94 . . . . .. log ........ 131 137 . 142 . . . . 149

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Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems

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