Source: COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY submitted to
IMPROVING DRAINAGE OF AGRICULTURAL LANDS FOR SALINITY PROBLEM IN THE LOWER ARKANSAS VALLEY
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0200179
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
COL00728
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Jul 1, 2004
Project End Date
Jun 30, 2007
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Oad, R. N.
Recipient Organization
COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
(N/A)
FORT COLLINS,CO 80523
Performing Department
CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING
Non Technical Summary
Salinity and high water table (waterlogging) conditions have been established as serious problems in the Lower Arkansas Valley of Colorado. The project will develop an inventory of existing drainage facilities and a methodology for assessing their condition. Recommendations will be made to improve drainage of agricultural lands, together with the anticipated benefits.
Animal Health Component
100%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
100%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
1030110202010%
1030210202010%
1035360202020%
1110210202010%
1115360202020%
4055360202030%
Goals / Objectives
The research will addresses the issue of proper drainage of agricultural lands and the quality of return flows to the Arkansas River. It is believed that improved drainage of agricultural lands in the Valley is needed to maintain the productivity of the land. The proposed research will begin to inventory and identify the condition and location of all subsurface and surface drainage networks in Otero, Bent and Prowers counties. This information will make it possible for drainage districts to develop long-term rehabilitation plans for the drainage networks in the Valley.
Project Methods
Mapping of the drains already installed in the Valley, and an evaluation of their condition and effectiveness, is a major concern. The research, therefore, needs to focus on a Proof of Concept approach in terms of drainage evaluation. The procedure will include field evaluation in a selected area (Wiley of Big Bend has been suggested). Inventory of existing drains, using local knowledge, will be a starting point following initial contacts made by the investigators. The soils and Landsat (or similar) data are also important in addition to the field investigation. Soils information is an integral part of the drainage topic and the remote data give a way of surveying large areas. The data will be coordinated using a GIS approach. The Proof of Concept in Wiley-Big Bend will show the way to expand to other areas in the Valley. The use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) for locating the subsurface drains has been investigated (Allred et al., 2003). There is some doubt whether GPR will be successful at drain depths of 2-3 m, in high water table areas and with high salinity levels. It is also a very local technique that requires some understanding of where to look in the first place. However, it is an interesting technique and would certainly add to the research component of the project. Mapping is only one aspect, however. Drainage effectiveness, i.e. the water removed and the resultant lowering of the water table, together with an evaluation of the quantity and quality of the drainage water, will be the next research phase. Flows from the drains that can be identified will provide an indication although it may not be clear what area is being affected. The flow out of a collector does not determine which drainage laterals connected to the collector are functioning. Drain blockage and/or collapse may be very difficult to determine. The third research phase would establish what recommendations could be made to improve drainage of agricultural lands, together with the likely benefits.

Progress 07/01/04 to 06/30/07

Outputs
The research plan for one site (the Rehyer farm) involved locating and cleaning of the existing tile drainage system, monitoring the groundwater variability and measuring salinity levels. In the Spring 2006 period, 300m long relief drain was excavated at this site to provide access points for drain cleaning equipment. The trees above the drain line were cleared by the farmers prior to drain cleaning. Data collected from the monitoring wells at this site indicated a slight increase in depth to water table after the Spring 2006 drain cleaning. At another site (Field 17), the plan was to design and install new subsurface drains based on the data collected for the groundwater and salinity variations. A manhole was installed and the drain pipe was cleaned under the irrigation canal to the edge of the field in June, 2006. The drain under the irrigation canal was changed to bell tile and was cemented to prevent seepage from the canal into the drain. In July 2006, another manhole was installed and PVC pipes were fitted to the old tile drains to tie into the newly installed manhole. Salinity tests conducted on soil samples collected from this site showed values tolerable by alfalfa and other crops. In Fall 2006, after analyzing the water table data and the saturated hydraulic conductivity measurements for 3 years, the new drainage system was designed using the Agricultural Drainage Planning Program (ADPP), a computer program developed for the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) by the Integrated Decision Support Group at Colorado State University. The ADPP model uses the transient state equation to determine the drain spacing. The new tile drains when installed should increase the productivity and control the high water table.

Impacts
Over the course of the project (June 2004-07), the research team has been able to develop a methodology to locate old subsurface drains, gauge the effectiveness of cleaning the existing drains, monitor the drains, and design of new drainage system based on transient drainage equations. The methodology to locate the old subsurface drains is especially noteworthy since much of the record and data related to the practice has been lost. The project conducted research to identify drainage problems in selected farmers' fields in the Lower Arkansas River Basin in Colorado. Plans are in progress for the installation of the new drains in one of the fields (Field 17). Also monitoring of the new drainage system should continue for the next 2 years after installation. The project was also very successful in reviewing and compiling the historical data related to the installation and use of subsurface drains in the Lower Arkansas River Valley. It was able to bring together several stakeholders, including the City of Lamar and several Drainage Districts, to discuss the salinity and drainage issue and what could be done about it. In Fall 2005, the project team worked with the City of Lamar and several Drainage Districts and arranged a demonstration where the main drain in Field 17 was cleaned. In Summer 2006, installation of manhole and cleaning of the drain took place. Cleaning of the drains has increased the efficiency of the tile drain on one site (the Reyher farm). The project also designed a new drainage system for a field (Field 17) using the Agricultural Drainage Planning Program (ADPP).

Publications

  • Rose C. Rotter. 2006. Improving Drainage of Agricultural Lands in the Lower Arkansas Valley. M.S Thesis submitted to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins Colorado.


Progress 01/01/06 to 12/31/06

Outputs
In year 2005, CSU researchers developed the methodology of locating the existing subsurface tile drains. In year 2006, main focus of the research was to investigate and develop methodologies for cleaning the existing drains and to design and install new subsurface relief drains. The Reyher trust Farm and Field 17 near Rocky Ford were selected as research sites to clean and monitor the existing drains and install new subsurface drains. A M.S-level graduate student, Rose Rotter, began field work in 2005 and has completed the design of the drainage system in 2006. The additional relief drains designed for Field 17 will be installed soon. The research plan for the Rehyer farm involved locating and cleaning of the existing tile drainage system, monitoring the groundwater variability and measuring salinity levels. On March 2006, 300m long relief drain was excavated from the Reyher farm to provide access points for drain cleaning equipment. The trees above the drain line were cleared by the farmers prior to drain cleaning. Data collected from the monitoring wells on the Reyher farm indicate a slight increase in depth to water table after the March 2006 drain cleaning. For Field 17, the plan was to design and install new subsurface drains based on the data collected for the groundwater and salinity variations. For Field 17, a manhole was installed and the drain pipe was cleaned under the irrigation canal to the edge of the field on June, 2006. The drain under the irrigation canal was changed to bell tile and was cemented to prevent seepage from the canal into the drain. On June 2006, another manhole was installed and PVC pipes were fitted to the old tile drains to tie into the newly installed manhole. Salinity tests conducted on soil samples collected from Field 17 showed values tolerable by alfalfa and other crops. After analyzing the water table data and the saturated hydraulic conductivity measurements for 3 years, the new drainage system was designed using Agricultural Drainage Planning Program (ADPP), a computer program developed for the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) by the Integrated Decision Support Group at Colorado State University. . The ADPP view used the transient state equation to determine the drain spacing. The new tile drains when installed should increase the productivity and control the high water table. Over the past 3 years, the research team has been able to develop methodology to locate old drains, gauge the effectiveness of cleaning the existing drains, monitor the drains, and design of new drainage system based on transient equations. Plans are in progress for the installation of the new drains on Field 17. Also monitoring of the new drainage system will continue for the next 2 years after installation.

Impacts
The project has generated great awarness and interest in the local communities to maintain proper drainage of agricultural lands. It has been able to mobilize local communities and their resources in addressing issues rlated to the drainage. The project has been able to develop methodologies for locating existing subsurface drains from satellite images, clean existing drains, and design and install new additional drains. The limited monitoring data indicate that the cleaning of the drains has increased the efficiency of the tile drain on the Reyher farm. The project has now designed a new drainage system for Field 17 using the Agricultural Drainage Planning Program (ADPP) view. These new drains will soon be installed. In the coming years, intensive monitoring will be done to evaluate the effectiveness of the cleaning and installation of additional drains.

Publications

  • Rotter, Rose (2006). Improving Drainage of Agricultural Lands in the Lower Arkansas River Valley. M.S Thesis, Department of Civil Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.


Progress 01/01/05 to 12/31/05

Outputs
The agricultural land in the Lower Arkansas River Valley is experiencing problems with high levels of salinity and a high water table. The valley agriculture has long been sustained through irrigation, but in recent years water has been purchased by municipalities and removed from the valley. Subsurface tile drains were installed in several lands throughout this area in the 1920s and 30s. Over time, knowledge of the locations of these tile drain systems has been lost and the systems often have not been maintained. Over the past five years, CSU faculty members including Dr. Gates and Dr. Garcia have done much work in the Valley which has established soil salinity as a major problem. Other work in the Valley includes installation of a drip system to compare the spread of salinity contamination with that of furrow systems for onions and corn, assessing and modeling salt chemistry, studying the economic effects of salinity, studying the effects of water quality changes on soil hydraulic properties, and using remote sensing for salinity and evapo-transpiration. This project seeks to demonstrate the usefulness of subsurface drainage as an effective control of water logging and salinity. Funding for this project was approved in 2004 and a M.S-level graduate student, Rose Rotter, began field work in 2005. During the spring, a major effort was underway to locate existing tile drains by speaking with farmers, and examining old engineering plans and aerial photographs. The Reyher Trust Farm and Field 17 near Rocky Ford were selected as demonstration sites to rehabilitate and install new subsurface drains. The research plan for the Reyher farm is to locate and clean the tile drainage system and then monitor the behavior of groundwater level over a number of years. For Field 17, the plan is to design and install a new subsurface drainage followed by monitoring of the groundwater level. In July 2005, groundwater monitoring wells were installed at these two sites to monitor location of the water table and salinity level of the groundwater. In October and November, hydraulic conductivity tests were conducted at the wells on Field 17 in preparation for designing a new subsurface drainage system for the field. Also in November, sewer cleaning equipment was used to clean up the main drain pipe from the outlet of the existing subsurface drainage system on Field 17. A camera sent up the pipe showed the main drain pipe to be in good working condition. In the Spring 06, a manhole will be installed to enable cleaning further up the main drain of Field 17 and the design of the new subsurface drains will be completed to hopefully tie into the existing system. Monitoring will continue throughout the spring and summer to document the expected lowering of the water table. Results of this study will enable water tables to be kept to a suitable level and salinity decreased in the agricultural areas of the Valley. Dated: Jan. 17, 06

Impacts
In the very first year of its implementation, the research project has resulted in beneficial impacts for the communities in the Lower Arkansas Valley. In Fall 2004 and Spring 2005, the project team worked with the Town of Bristol and the Colorado Department of Transportation to prepare designs for a drainage system that would remedy the flooding problem in the town. Since Summer 2005, the project is conducting research to identify drainage problems in selected farmers' fields including Reyhmer Field and Field 17. In Fall 2005, the project team worked with the City of Lamar and several Drainage Districts and arranged a demonstration where the main drain in Field 17 was cleaned. The project is now designing a relief drainage system that will tie into the main drain. The project research team was able to secure funding from the Colorado Conservation Board, which will help in its efforts to demonstrate the benefits of drainage to the communities in the Lower Arkansas Valley.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 07/01/04 to 12/31/04

Outputs
Notification of funding for this project was received on October 5, 2004. The funding delay meant that a graduate student was not able to be hired on the project for the Fall semester 2004. A student, Rose Rotter, has been identified and will be starting on January 15, 2005. A drainage problem has been investigated in Bristol, CO, a small community in the Lower Arkansas Valley. Agricultural runoff, together with rainfall from thunderstorm activity in the area, has caused flooding in the community during the summer of 2004. A site investigation (October 29, 2004) and two meetings with the community (October 30 and December 11, 2004) have been undertaken. Data have been assembled in GIS format to assist with problem identification. Options to mitigate the runoff effects are being investigated.

Impacts
A feasibility study will be completed for drainage options for Bristol, CO. The study will be used to support applications for funding to install structures to mitigate the flooding problem. The solutions identified will have application in other small communities with similar drainage problems.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period