Agricultural drainwater effects on wildlife in central California

By:  and 
Edited by: David J. HoffmanBarnett A. RattnerG. Allen Burton Jr., and John Cairns Jr.


  • Larger Work: This publication is Chapter 26 of Handbook of ecotoxicology
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In California's San Joaquin Valley and in numerous other agricultural areas in the western U.S., irrigation wastewater may accumulate in confined shallow aquifers, eventually rising to levels that adversely affect crops. To sustain long-term agricultural  productivity in these regions, systems for the drainage and disposal of this subsurface wastewater must be installed.1,2 the drained water may contain an array of soluble chemicals that have been applied to the crops, as well as those that have been leached from native soils. Agricultural drainwater is frequently disposed of by discharging it to surface aquatic systems where these constituents may be directly toxic to aquatic organisms, or they may bioaccumulate through the aquatic food webs upon which birds and other wildlife feed. The focus of this chapter is research conducted since 1983 to assess the effects of wildlife exposure to subsurface agricultural drainwater in the San Joaquin Valley.

Agricultural drainwater is discharged primarily to tributaries and wetlands of the San Joaquin River system or, especially in the southern San Joaquin Valley, to evaporation ponds.3 Because of high nutrient content in the drainwater, evaporation ponds have high levels of biological productivity and provide an abundant food supply for aquatic birds. Aquatic birds (primarily waterfowl and shorebirds) have been the main focus of wildlife research at the evaporation ponds, and at managed wetlands (primarily hunting clubs) within the San Joaquin River system, but mammals, snakes, and frogs have also been studied. Findings of those studies are summarized in this chapter. Other studies have been conducted on fish and aquatic invertebrates in areas receiving agricultural drainwater, but in this review those findings are described only as they relate to dietary exposure of wildlife.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Agricultural drainwater effects on wildlife in central California
Chapter 26
ISBN 0873715853
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher Lewis Publishers
Publisher location Boca Raton, FL
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Western Ecological Research Center
Description 19 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Handbook of ecotoxicology
First page 577
Last page 595
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