Information technology and innovative drainage management practices for selenium load reduction from irrigated agriculture to provide stakeholder assurances and meet contaminant mass loading policy objectives

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Many perceive the implementation of environmental regulatory policy, especially concerning non-point source pollution from irrigated agriculture, as being less efficient in the United States than in many other countries. This is partly a result of the stakeholder involvement process but is also a reflection of the inability to make effective use of Environmental Decision Support Systems (EDSS) to facilitate technical information exchange with stakeholders and to provide a forum for innovative ideas for controlling non-point source pollutant loading. This paper describes one of the success stories where a standardized Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methodology was modified to better suit regulation ... continued below

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Quinn, N.W.T. October 15, 2009.

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Many perceive the implementation of environmental regulatory policy, especially concerning non-point source pollution from irrigated agriculture, as being less efficient in the United States than in many other countries. This is partly a result of the stakeholder involvement process but is also a reflection of the inability to make effective use of Environmental Decision Support Systems (EDSS) to facilitate technical information exchange with stakeholders and to provide a forum for innovative ideas for controlling non-point source pollutant loading. This paper describes one of the success stories where a standardized Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methodology was modified to better suit regulation of a trace element in agricultural subsurface drainage and information technology was developed to help guide stakeholders, provide assurances to the public and encourage innovation while improving compliance with State water quality objectives. The geographic focus of the paper is the western San Joaquin Valley where, in 1985, evapoconcentration of selenium in agricultural subsurface drainage water, diverted into large ponds within a federal wildlife refuge, caused teratogenecity in waterfowl embryos and in other sensitive wildlife species. The fallout from this environmental disaster was a concerted attempt by State and Federal water agencies to regulate non-point source loads of the trace element selenium. The complexity of selenium hydrogeochemistry, the difficulty and expense of selenium concentration monitoring and political discord between agricultural and environmental interests created challenges to the regulation process. Innovative policy and institutional constructs, supported by environmental monitoring and the web-based data management and dissemination systems, provided essential decision support, created opportunities for adaptive management and ultimately contributed to project success. The paper provides a retrospective on the contentious planning process and offers suggestions as to how the technical and institutional issues could have been resolved faster through early adoption of some of the core principles of sound EDSS design.

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  • Journal Name: Agricultural Water Management; Journal Volume: 96; Journal Issue: 3; Related Information: Journal Publication Date: 2009

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  • Report No.: LBNL-3104E
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.agwat.2008.09.008 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 982902
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1014049

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  • October 15, 2009

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  • Oct. 14, 2017, 8:36 a.m.

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  • Oct. 18, 2017, 10:08 a.m.

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Quinn, N.W.T. Information technology and innovative drainage management practices for selenium load reduction from irrigated agriculture to provide stakeholder assurances and meet contaminant mass loading policy objectives, article, October 15, 2009; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1014049/: accessed November 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.